Service of Process

Service of process both provides a defendant with notice of a lawsuit and asserts the court’s authority over the defendant. Proper service is necessary to obtain a judgment that will be recognized in other jurisdictions. In the United States, service can be accomplished through private parties. Many foreign states, however, regard service as a public act that can only be effectuated by government officials. That difficulty is addressed by the Hague Service Convention, to which the United States is a party and with which compliance is mandatory when a case falls within its scope.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f), which incorporates the Convention, explains how to serve defendants in federal cases when they are located outside the United States.

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