How Long Does the Hague Process Take for International Service?
If you or someone you know is suing a foreign defendant, it is critical to understand that the process is significantly different than serving a person or entity domestically. The time in which to complete service is wholly dependent upon the country in which the defendant will be served as well as the method of service used by the plaintiff. That being said, all countries that have agreed to be signatories to the Hague Service Convention (HSC) are required to provide international service of process through the central authority. The HSC governs the method of service for international litigation involving signatory nations in a uniform and streamlined way.
These nations may also, however, provide international service by way of alternative means. Defendants in nations that are not parties to the HSC must be served via letters rogatory or by way of an agent.
No Time Restraints
Unlike domestic service of process, international service of process is not subject to specific time frames. Theoretically, the best case scenario would result in service of process being effectuated and completed within two to four weeks. In the worst-case scenario, the international service of process could take two or more years to be completed, such a scenario occurred in a Chinese matter. The more typical timeframe for international service of process is a few months. While attorneys are usually accustomed to finalizing domestic service within a certain time frame, both lawyers and their clients need to understand that these restrictions do not apply to international lawsuits.
American Courts and International Service
Importantly, domestic courts understand that international service of process can take much longer than the timeframe required under local rules of procedure. For example, in the 2019 Ohio district court case Pedersen v. Dreams Come True Aviation, the court had no concern when put on notice that international process of service would take at least one year to be effectuated and completed. In the Pedersen matter, which was a joinder case, the plaintiff had obtained a multi-million dollar settlement plus interest against a Czech Republic-based company Evektor-Aerotechnik (“Evektor”). Evektor, however, had not satisfied any part of the judgment against it and did not have any property in the United States. Instead of trying to get the Czech Republic to recognize and enforce the judgment against Evektor, Pederson instead sued its North American parts dealer and representative Dreams Come True Aviation (“DCTA”). DCTA moved to dismiss for failure to join an indispensable party–namely, Evektor–which the court denied, noting that Evektor could be easily joined and ordering Pederson to do so.
Let Us Help
If you need assistance effectuating service of process abroad, contact Ancillary Legal right away. Our team has years of experience successfully handling domestic and international service of process on behalf of clients. Contact us today.
If you need assistance with depositions, translations, or videography, contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting.