Service of Summons / Process of foreign Court in India [Hague Service Convention]




The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, more commonly called the Hague Service Convention, is a multilateral treaty which was signed in The Hague on 15 November 1965 by members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It allows service of judicial documents from one signatory state to another without use of consular and diplomatic channels. The issue of international service had been previously addressed as part of the 1905 Civil Procedure Convention which was also signed in The Hague. The 1905 convention however did not command wide support and was ratified by only 22 countries.

 

Prior to the enactment of the Hague Service Convention, service of process in civil cases was generally effected by a letter rogatory, a formal request from the court in the country where proceedings were initiated or underway to a court in another country where the defendant resided. This procedure generally required transmission of the document to be served from the originating court to the foreign ministry in the state of origin. The foreign ministry in the state of origin forwarded the request to the foreign ministry in the destination state. The foreign ministry would then forward the documents to the local court where the party to be served resided and the local court would arrange for service on the party to be served. Once service was made, a certificate of service (proving that service was made) would then pass through the same channels in reverse. Under a somewhat more streamlined procedure, courts could sometimes forward service requests to the foreign ministry or the foreign court directly, cutting out one or more steps in the process. To effect service in states which have not ratified the Hague Service Convention, parties often still have to follow this cumbersome and time-consuming procedure.

 

The Hague Service Convention established a more simplified means for parties in signatory states to effect service in other signatory states. Under the Convention, each contracting state is required to designate a "Central Authority" to accept incoming requests for service. A "Judicial Officer" who is competent to serve process in the state of origin is permitted to send request for service directly to the "Central Authority" of the state where service is to be made. Upon receiving the request, the "Central Authority" in the receiving state arranges for service in a manner permitted within the receiving state, typically through a local court to the defendant's residence. Once service is effected, the "Central Authority" sends a certificate of service to the "Judicial Officer' who made the request. Parties are required to use three standardized forms: (1) a request for service, (2) a summary of the proceedings (similar to a summons), and (3) a certificate of service. The main benefits of the Hague Service Convention over Letters Rogatory is that it is faster (requests generally take 2 - 4 months rather than 6 - 12 months), it uses standardized forms which should be recognized by authorities in signatory countries, and in most cases, it is cheaper because service can be effected by the local attorney without hiring a foreign attorney to advise on how to serve.

 

As of 6 February 2011, 62 states are parties of the Hague Service Convention. They include 51 of the 72 Hague Conference on Private International Law member states, plus the following other states: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Kuwait, Malawi, Pakistan, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, and Seychelles. (2011 -02-06)[update]

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