Write this down.  There is no such thing as “The Hague Convention”.*

It’s like a unicorn or the Tooth Fairy or Rodents of Unusual Size.

Sorry, but it just doesn’t exist, so citing “The Hague Convention” is more than just sloppy vocabulary.  That sloppiness can make the wheels fall off the procedural wagon, especially if a lawyer tries to apply the wrong treaty.

Actually, there are about three dozen Hague Conventions, although the United States is party to only a few.  Identifying the right treaty is critical to the correct application of international law in a U.S. case.

  • Have to serve a summons?  You need the Hague Service Convention.
  • Need to authenticate an Italian marriage certificate?  The Hague Apostille Convention.
  • Serving a subpoena?  Not so fast.  You can’t just serve the thing, so get the thought out of your mind.  But know that the Hague Evidence Convention will govern what you seek to accomplish.  And watch out for Article 23, as it can really make you miserable.
  • Notice of Motion to Terminate Parental Rights?  The Service Convention, again… but if the TPR is in advance of an adoption, then the Hague Adoption Convention comes into play.  But be sure to be even more specific in naming, as there are two of them.  Only the 1993 Convention is applicable here, as the U.S. is not a party to the 1965 treaty, but I once spent fifteen minutes trying to convince a client that ’65 wasn’t applicable.

Getting under the proper treaty is only the first step… they all have quirks & foibles to them, so call in some expert help.  Your client and your professional liability carrier will appreciate it.

* Likewise, there’s no such thing as “The Geneva Convention”.  With all due respect to the greatest TV comedy ever, it isn’t as simple as just referring to the city where they signed the thing.

[Originally published on LinkedIn, March 11, 2016.  Update:  I go off on the subject again here.]