My wife gives me incessant grief because I enjoy romantic comedies. I’m kind of a sap. One rom-com that I absolutely adore is My Life in Ruins, a fun little film by Donald Petrie, set in Greece and starring Nia Vardolos (of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame). An essential element of the plot is the insistence by Vardolos’ character that they do everything far too slowly in Greece. Personally, I don’t think so. They’re simply more relaxed than the rest of us.
Okay, by common law standards, sure, Greece is pretty pokey. But compared to other civil law jurisdictions, service of process in Greece is comparatively quick. The procedure is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, 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.
- 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 in Greece. You have to file a Hague Evidence Request. Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.
Now, here’s how service is effected in Greece:
Article 5 Service
- Translate the documents. Greece’s declaration to Article 5(3) requires it and, although the defendant may speak flawless English, omitting translated documents 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.
- Send to the appropriate Central Authority.
- Sit tight. It may take a while—likely four months or more from submission to return of proof.
Article 10 alternative methods
- They simply aren’t available, because Greece objects to them all. Article 5 is the only way it can be done.
Seriously—that’s all there is to it. Greece’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.