Rio de Janeiro from above Cristo Redentor. Mariordo via Wikimedia Commons.
Rio de Janeiro from above Cristo Redentor.     Mariordo via Wikimedia Commons.

[This post was overhauled entirely on August 19, 2020.  The Hague Service Convention entered into force on June 1, 2019, but aside from the indication of the Central Authority (the Ministry of Justice and Public Security), we still don’t have much to go on.  For now, a standard Article 5 request should be accompanied by a translation of all documents into Portuguese.]

They’ve got a lot of coffee in Brazil, according a certain Mr. F. A. S. of Hoboken.  It is a land of wonder and beauty and mystery and a culture all its own, not to mention home to one of the greatest athletes* ever.  Not quite like its Spanish-speaking neighbors, Brazil is a former colony of Portugal—and the only country in South America to use Portuguese as its official language.  They also throw the most massive pre-Lenten party on the planet (Rio’s Carnival), an event that makes Mardi Gras in New Orleans seem like afternoon tea at Balmoral.  And while Brazil’s political environment remains awash in corruption and mired in scandal, its judiciary has become relatively stable and respected.  Indeed, over the past several years, Brazil’s courts have undertaken a concerted effort to become more transparent.  Serving process in Brazil, while complicated, is neither the labyrinthine undertaking nor lost cause that it may once have been.

You’ve got three ways to go:

  1. Tap us on the shoulder for bespoke attention—and probably some amusing commentary to boot (see the upper right if you’re on a desktop, or way down below if you’re on a phone/tablet),
  2. Cruise over to the Hague Envoy platform at USM94.com to automate the completion of your forms in perhaps twenty minutes or so, or
  3. If you’re feeling froggy & would like to handle the whole thing yourself, keep reading.  This lays out the framework you’ll need.

Here’s the short version of the how-to:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents. Brazil has not indicated a declaration to Article 5(3), regarding translation requirements.  But they do require it, so although the defendant may speak flawless English, omitting Portuguese versions of the documents– all of them— will prompt the Central Authority to reject your request.
  • 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.  Oh, and translate the Request Form into Portuguese, too.  I contend that the treaty only requires English and French, but I don’t run the show in Brasilia.  Just do it.
  • Send everything to the Central Authority.  In duplicate.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—perhaps a year or more from submission to return of proof.  The judge is just going to have to accept that fact, because there is no truly viable alternative…

Article 10 alternative methods

The Article 5 method is straightforward and simple, but actually making it happen is anything but smooth.  The real problem with service in Brazil is that they’re so new to the treaty, nobody who does what I do has a sufficient track record to make predictions.  The old method under the Interamerican Convention on Letters Rogatory took a long time.  And given the state of affairs down there right now, local authorities are decidedly less than motivated to act against large local entities, so service on the local factory boss may not happen at all.

Brazil’s Central Authority information—as well as that of all the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.

 


* A hat tip to the only soccer player I ever knew existed in my youth (other than his teammates,  Nigel Powers and Judge Dredd).  Great enough that just two syllables suffice,  I give you… Pelé .

I tried this kick when I was eight. I failed. And that's when I stopped playing soccer.
I tried this kick when I was eight. I failed. And that’s when I stopped playing soccer.