It happens all the time. I’ll give a lecture or mention what I do at a bar association event, and the colleague I just met will express appreciation for what I do, tell me it’s a really neat niche, and then try to convince himself that our practice areas don’t overlap. I’m here to tell you that, yes, they do. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Sorry, Aaron. I handle car accidents, not immigration. But thanks for doing that CLE. You’re a funny guy. (Funny how? I’m a clown? I amuse you?) No, I mean I really like how you got that picture of Boromir into your slide deck!
Wait a sec, there, pal. First of all… immigration? You’re kidding, right? You did just sit through my lecture on international law, right? Those are not the same concepts. (He’s not kidding, sadly.*)
Second of all (setting my incredulity aside), let’s say you do handle car accidents exclusively, no visa applications ever. What if some random Swede rents a car from the Avis desk at the airport, and an hour later, he sideswipes your client? Yeah, you’re going to sue Avis. Yeah, you’re going to sue their insurance company.
But don’t you think you might have to serve old Bjorn? (Yes.) And just how are you going to go about doing that? (Hmmmm. I never thought about that.)
Well, if you’re going to serve him in Sweden, start off by looking up the Hague Service Convention. It’s mandatory doctrine if you need to serve Bjorn in his homeland. Oh, wait… he lives in Monaco, you say? Well, that muddies the waters just a bit (though not much). Hague restrictions apply there, too, so you have to decide where you think you have the best shot at serving him. [Hey, John McEnroe almost pulled it off.]
Next, you’ll have to set up a translation of the documents, even though I have yet to meet a Swede who doesn’t speak English as well as I do. Sweden requires it (kinda). Monaco doesn’t require it (kinda), but good luck getting a huissier de justice to approach the net without one.
Then ask the Central Authority, either in Stockholm or Monte Carlo, for help (even though the Swedes don’t technically object to Article 10 methods).
Last, pray that you’ve filled out your USM-94 correctly. That’s a big one. Very important, the USM-94.
If you don’t get him served…
You’ll have a tough time getting the judge to proceed without that indispensable defendant.
* A huge segment of the practicing bar thinks that international law is immigration law, and immigration law is international law. My local bar association even conflates the two ideas in its committee structure. This is so baffling that both the international lawyers and the immigration lawyers in town have given up trying to convince everybody else.