We ain’t building rockets here. But we are building a ship of sorts, and a leaky vessel means the cargo may not make it to its destination. Serving process in Ireland is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter. To be sure, service in Northern Ireland is handled a bit differently, as it’s part of the United Kingdom, but not entirely differently. The Republic of Ireland is a common law jurisdiction—just like the rest of the English-speaking world—so things work in a very familiar manner.
Some background is in order, if you’re so inclined, before we cut to the chase.
- The roadmap to the overall process—the recipe to our Secret Sauce.
- The structure of the Convention itself is discussed in this four-part series.
- And an absolutely critical note: the Hague Service Convention does not pertain to subpoenas. Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena abroad. In Ireland, you have to send a Letter Rogatory because Ireland is not party to the Hague Evidence Convention. Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.
Now, for the chase scene. Here’s how service is effected in Ireland:
Article 5 Service
- Don’t bother. Just don’t. Ireland’s Central Authority is all but non-functional. That is, they don’t process requests quickly (if at all) and even if they did, they probably wouldn’t tell you. Result: a defendant who ignores a summons has little incentive to enter an appearance. My best suggestion… proceed directly to Door #3.
Article 10 alternative methods
- Mail service (Door #2) is available, depending on where you are, but it’s a bad idea anyway.
- Service via private agent (process server) is available to U.S. litigants under Article 10(b)— your Door #3! This is the only truly viable option for serving defendants in the Republic of Ireland. Absolutely critical—make sure to have the process server instructed by a solicitor, or the attempt to serve is ineffective, as it violates the Republic’s position on Article 10.
Ireland’s declarations and Central Authority information—as well as those of all the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.
Bonus practice tip… if you’re defense counsel, always question the validity of service effected on your overseas client. The plaintiff may not have done it correctly.