HAGUE ENVOY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why

Why must I do this?

In short, because Sandra Day O’Connor said so. The seminal case in Hague jurisprudence is Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694 (1988).  Where the Convention applies, you have to follow it, regardless of what lex fori might say.  (The Supremacy Clause looms large here.)

What do I tell the judge/clerk that pushes back?

Tell them that Hague doctrine is mandatory. Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694, 699 (1988).

Why don’t forum rules dictate how service is effected?

Well, in U.S. federal court, they actually do. R. Civ. P. 4(f)(1) specifically references the Convention, and 4(f) generally defers to the law of the foreign country in which the defendant is served.

In state court, the question isn’t so clear-cut, but forum rules don’t override the Convention… see the blog post: It’s called the Supremacy Clause for a reason.

TRANSLATION

Do I have to translate the documents?

Well, that depends on where the defendant is located. Generally speaking, if the foreign jurisdiction wasn’t once a British colony, you’re probably going to have to translate.  (As you get into the procedure, we’ll let you know.)

Do I have to translate the exhibits, too?

If you have to translate, you have to translate everything.  Every word, every page, even the bits of text in an image or seal or e-filing stamp.

COSTS

What’s it going to cost?

The cost of form completion through Hague Envoy is $350 per defendant. Translation, printing, and shipping come on top of that… and that’s all based on volume.

Is there a quicker/cheaper/easier way to do this?

Maybe, maybe not. As you go, we’ll pop up some suggestions here & there for you. Or… you can always hire Viking Advocates, LLC to take care of the whole shooting match for you.

TIME

How long will this take?

That all depends on the destination—and it varies wildly, from a few weeks to a couple of years (that’s not a typo). Fortunately, most procedural rules give courts ample latitude to extend deadlines (see FRCP 4(m)).

Can I contact the Authorities directly?

Yes—that’s the whole point of this form. Attorneys in both the U.S. and Canada are authorized to sign Hague Requests, and file them directly with the appropriate overseas Authorities.  Be warned, though—while you certainly can contact those Authorities, many of them will just ignore you on the follow-up.

What if the judge/clerk says it’s taking too long and I’m going to be dismissed?

Tell them this. (Just do it a bit more diplomatically!)

Is there a quicker/cheaper/easier way to do this?

Maybe, maybe not. As you go, we’ll pop up some suggestions here & there for you. Or… you can always hire Viking Advocates, LLC to take care of the whole shooting match for you.

When am I going to get proof of service?

That varies wildly by country… above all, you must be patient.

Oh, and… you may hear from opposing counsel before you hear from the Central Authority.

The Statute of Limitation is about to run. Will this get served in time?

Chances are pretty slim that you’ll receive proof of service before the statute runs, but don’t conflate the two timelines… the statute goes to filing, while service deadlines are governed separately. See Time to file versus time to serve.

PECULIARITIES

The court says I have to get something called an Apostille for all of the documents. How do I get that?

The court is incorrect.  Article 3 of the Convention dispenses with such formalities entirely.

The court says they have to appoint the process server… how do I find that out?

The court lacks the authority to dictate who serves your documents in the other country.

What do I have to serve?

That’s up to lex fori. If you have to serve a particular document a block from the courthouse, you’ll have to serve that particular document in Tokyo or Paris or Cancun.  But focus only on what MUST be served.  See also Hague Service… how, rather than what.

Who can sign this? (And why can’t a pro se litigant use this app?)

The U.S. designation of “Forwarding Authorities” includes any court official, any attorney, or any other person authorized by the rules of the court.

Contrary to the mistaken belief of many, no court rules say a layperson can sign a Hague Request.

I haven’t filed yet. What do I need to know?

Many things, but most importantly, keep it short, counsel.

How do I serve non-Hague defendants?

Certainly not by using this form. But shoot an email to envoy@vikinglaw.us and help may be available.

The action is filed in Canada. Will this form still work?

Yes, it certainly can. This form is utilized by both US and Canadian practitioners and officials.

I don’t have the defendant’s address—can I still use this form?

The defendant’s address is the most critical bit of detail in the procedure.  If you don’t have an address, the Convention doesn’t apply.  See here for elaboration.

The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act is in play here… does this form comply with the Act?

Necessarily, yes… 28 U.S.C. §1608 (both (a)(2) and (b)(2)) reflects adherence to the Convention. Note, though, that FSIA includes backstops if your Hague Request is rejected on sovereignty grounds.  See here for more.

The judge has sealed the documents. How do I make sure the foreign authorities respect the seal?

Quick answer: you don’t. Once the Hague Request leaves your hands, you can no longer control adherence to the seal, especially when you have to involve foreign officials who are not subject to the jurisdiction of the forum court.