Service Out Of Jurisdiction: The Hague Service Convention & Foreign Process Section

Service Out Of Jurisdiction: The Hague Service Convention & Foreign Process Section

The Hague Service Convention, established in 1965, revolutionised the process of serving legal documents across international borders. This convention is widely applied, with 79 contracting parties including countries such as the UK, USA, all 27 EU member states, and several Latin American nations. It simplifies the legalities involved when serving documents like divorce petitions or court summonses to individuals residing in a different country.


Key Provisions:

Local Law Compliance: Service of documents must adhere to the legal requirements of the destination country.

Central Authority: Each member state has a Central Authority, like the Royal Courts of Justice in England and Wales, which facilitates document service, bypassing the need for letters rogatory.

Language Precision: Documents must meet the linguistic requirements of the jurisdiction in question: for instance, in England and Wales they must be in English; if elsewhere they should be translated into the language of that jurisdiction.

Efficiency vs. Tradition: The Convention supersedes traditional methods involving letters rogatory and formal requests to foreign courts, that often encounter diplomatic delays. Instead, it establishes a direct transmission route through the Central Authority, significantly accelerating the process.

While the Convention promotes efficiency, member states can impose specific conditions. In England and Wales, for example, a British process server is not deemed a “competent person” for service under Article 10 of the Convention. The UK’s preference, clarified in 2003, is for direct service via a solicitor within its jurisdiction, though the precise methods remain undefined.


Foreign Process Section

Serving English Court proceedings internationally may necessitate court permission, especially if the contract involves an exclusive jurisdiction clause. To avoid disputes over service validity, it is prudent to seek permission concurrently with court filing.

The main method of service in The Convention is that requests for service coming from one contracting state are transmitted to the Central Authority of the state in which service is to be effected. Therefore, service should be arranged by providing the documents to be served to the Foreign Process Section at the High Court, who will then send the documents to the Central Authority in the country state where the defendant is to be served. While alternative methods do exist, they are subject to objections by some contracting states.

Remember, when serving legal documents abroad under The Hague Service Convention, the specific requirements depend on the country where the defendant is to be served. Once the Foreign Process Section has gathered all necessary documents for service, they will transmit these papers to the Central Authority in the relevant country and the Central Authority in that jurisdiction will then handle the actual service process. After successful service, they will provide evidence of service to the Foreign Process Section, which can be subsequently filed with the court as needed.


When serving documents out of jurisdiction accurate translation is critical. For expert assistance, contact IMD Translation today at or on 03309121530