Nyhavn Waterfront, Copenhagen. Niels Bosboom via Wikimedia Commons.
Nyhavn Waterfront, Copenhagen. Niels Bosboom via Wikimedia Commons.

I say all the time that we ain’t building rockets here.  But we are building a ship, and a leaky ship means that your people could not possibly reach North America from Europe.  Do it the right way, and you’re the FIRST EUROPEANS TO REACH NORTH AMERICA.  That’s right, I said it.  Scandinavians got here first.  Er, well, we didn’t get here first.  But we beat Columbus to the punch by about five hundred years.

Aaaaaanyhew… I often joke about those “evil Danes who kept my Norwegian ancestors under their thumb for centuries” but the truth is, Scandinavia is made up of several (three or four, depending on who you talk to) wonderful and kindred cultures, and I look to Danes as family.  We all answer to the Viking Horn and we all know intuitively that Valhalla awaits us in the afterlife.  And deep down, we all reeeeally love playing with Legos– perhaps Denmark’s greatest export.  To this day.

I digress.

Serving process in Denmark is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention.  This holds true regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter.  Some background is in order, if you’re so inclined, before we cut to the chase.

Here’s how it’s done in Denmark:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents. Denmark’s declaration to Article 5(3) does not require documents to be translated, but the judicial official serving them is required to offer the defendant a chance to reject untranslated process.  Now, I have yet to meet a Dane who doesn’t speak English as well as I do, but it’s not a fight worth having, if you ask me… just translate it.
  • Fill out a USM-94. Be very careful about ensuring that it is complete and concise, and make sure that it is signed by a court official or an attorney.  If it is not, make sure that the person signing is commissioned by the court.
  • Send to the appropriate Central Authority, in this case Ministry of Justice in Copenhagen.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely three or four months from submission to return of proof.

Article 10 alternative methods

  • Mail service is sort of available (maybe, kinda, could be), because the Danes don’t specifically object to service by mail. They also say it might not be valid either.  Given the ambiguity, you probably don’t want to try it– and even if you want to try it… bad idea.
  • Denmark also allows direct access to “judicial officers or other competent persons” under Article 10(b), but they make no definitive statement in their declarations about who those people are.  Frankly, it doesn’t matter because Denmark’s Central Authority is pretty efficient.

Seriously—that’s all there is to it in Denmark, whose declarations and Central Authority information—as well as those of all the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.

And remember… if you’re defense counsel, always question the validity of service effected on your overseas client, because the plaintiff may not have done it correctly.  That actually happened once, with a defendant in Norway, and her lawyers were smart enough to fight the issue.  The Washington Court of Appeals erroneously thought going outside the Central Authority was okay, but their Supreme Court saw the matter differently.


Little Mermaid statue, visitcopenhagen.com
Little Mermaid sculpture in Copenhagen Harbor, by Edvard Eriksen.  See more about her story at visitcopenhagen.com.

Ever see Disney’s The Little Mermaid?  Yeah, she’s Danish, sprung from the imagination of Hans Christian Andersen.  And this is what she really looks like. –>