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.

A Primer on Service of Process

Serving process on a defendant does two things: (1) it asserts the court’s authority over the defendant; and (2) it provides the defendant with notice of the lawsuit. In the United States, process can be served by private parties. But many foreign states regard service as a public act that can be done only by…

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A Big Step Forward for Service by Email under the Hague Service Convention

The Special Commission on the practical operation of the Service, Evidence, and Access to Justice Conventions has just completed its 2024 meeting and, at last, taken on the issue of service by email under the Hague Service Convention. Its conclusions are welcome and should have a significant influence on U.S. courts’ decisions, which in recent…

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Desperately Seeking Interlocutory Appeal

Despite some excellent opinions correctly interpreting the Hague Service Convention (HSC) and Rule 4(f)(3) in recent years, the district courts continue to be deeply divided on recurring questions of international service of process, in particular the permissibility of service by email or by other electronic means. Bill Dodge and I think such questions are clearly…

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Ninth Circuit Creates Split on Serving Motion to Confirm Arbitration Award

How does one serve process to confirm an arbitral award on parties outside the United States? The answer turns out to be quite complicated. In Voltage Pictures LLC v. Gussi S.A. de C.V., the Ninth Circuit charted a careful path through the maze of interactions between the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and the Federal Rules…

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