Serving a Defendant Abroad? Three Common International Service Problems

Issues with international service of process can cause significant headaches for the plaintiff trying to pursue a lawsuit against an overseas defendant. International service of process is particularly important when it comes to collecting a judgment issued by a domestic court against a foreign defendant. Below are the three biggest issues that come up when it comes to the international service of process.

How to Serve Abroad

Perhaps one of the easiest obstacles to overcome is figuring out how to serve abroad. That being said, international service of process can be complex. First, it is important to know whether the receiving country is a signatory to the Hague Service Convention (“THSC”) or the Inter-American Service Treaty (“IAST”). Second, it is just as important to know whether or not a judgment needs to be enforced. Both of these factors will help you determine the best method for international service of process. Failure to properly analyze the best method to serve overseas can result in invalid service and possibly an unenforceable judgment.

Lengthy Process

Depending on the type of service method used, the international service of process can take as little as several months or as long as a year—if there are no delays involved. When there are delays, such as those that can occur when foreign governments and consulates are involved, the process can take even longer. The reason behind the lengthy time frame is that the legal paperwork typically needs to go through the receiving country’s central authority and sometimes even the receiving nation’s courts simply for the lawsuit to be correctly served on the defendant. This, of course, is not ideal as most people involved in a lawsuit prefer that the matter be resolved sooner rather than later.

Differing Local Rules

Although the receiving nation may be a signatory to the HSC or IAST, this does not mean that the country has agreed to comply with every portion of these international treaties when it comes to international service of process. Indeed, some signatories expressly object to specific methods of service expressed in these conventions (for example, alternate service or service by mail). Beyond a nation cherry-picking portions of the treaties, there are also the nation’s specific local rules that apply to international service, which can differ not just by country but by region within a country.

Let Us Help You

As discussed, suing a foreign defendant can become complicated as there are many factors to consider before moving forward. Ancillary Legal has years of experience handling international service abroad and can provide the support you need. Contact us today to see how we can help.