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Attorneys and Process Servers: How does the Hague Service Convention affect you?

If you are involved in any form of litigation, we are sure you know how catastrophic a ruling of invalid service could be further down the line – and even more so in the case of expensive international litigation.

The Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters allows for international process service to be effected in such a way as to remove all reasonable possibility of challenge in the home court over jurisdiction.

The Convention creates a mechanism for effective international service through ‘Central Authorities’ in member states, alongside any other permissible methods. Service using the Hague Service Convention avoids arguments about validity.


If you need the authority of a formal, court-issued, Hague Certificate of Service, or there is the slightest chance that a defendant here in the UK will fight a transatlantic action, or if there is ever likely to be any need to enforce a judgment over here, it makes absolute sense to undertake Article 5 service through our Central Authority using our gold service.  Learn more >>

As an alternative to the Central Authority route, the Convention acknowledges that service can be carried out by other means and Article 10 makes it clear that the Convention allows service directly via a “competent person” in the UK. The UK Government has designated that solicitors such as Graham Bridgman are competent persons and our silver service offers service upon his formal instructions.  Learn more >>

If you are considering process service in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland, they each have their own Central Authorities to whom you can apply direct for Article 5 service and Graham Bridgman, our solicitor, is only able to act within the jurisdiction of the England and Wales Central Authority for Article 10 service. 
However, our bronze service provides for service via private process server in all of these territories.  Learn more >>

Why can’t we just use a suitable local process server, without these extra administrative hoops?

A question we are frequently asked!

There are competing views amongst American lawyers and courts as to whether service abroad via a foreign process server (alone) is permitted under US law. We know that some attorneys will routinely challenge any method of service that is not via the Central Authority or involving a UK Solicitor, whilst others, holding the contrary view, are perfectly prepared to instruct Across the Pond to serve documents without Solicitor involvement, accepting the risk of later challenge.

You should note the mandatory character of the Hague Service Convention in the US expressed in the landmark US Supreme Court ruling in Volkswagenwerk AG v Schlunk, 486 US 694 (1988). Also, the England and Wales Central Authority, and that of the Republic or Ireland, have made it clear that a private process server is not a competent person for the purposes of article 10, and that other than Article 5 service, service through a solicitor is really the only option. So if the ‘other side’ becomes aware of all this, you can see why a challenge to the legality of a serve is likely to be considered, and if the relevant process was not served through a solicitor, that challenge is likely to follow, and to succeed.

So, if that risk of challenge is acceptable, our bronze service provides for service via private process server, not just in England and Wales, but throughout the rest of the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and the Republic of Ireland.

Learn more >>

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