I say all the time that we aren’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 Cyprus is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter. Cyprus has a rather complicated history, even in recent decades– and the island has been divided between Greek and Turkish ethnicities in the south and northeast, respectively, since the 1960s and ’70s. Though not as bitter as several decades ago, the division nonetheless remains, and service in the Turkish region may not be as straightforward as in the Greek. The following focuses mainly on the Greek portion of Cyprus, although Greek and Turkish officials may cooperate to effect service on behalf of foreign applicants.
Some background on the Convention 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 confer coercive effect on subpoenas. Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena in Cyprus. At least, not if you want it to actually work. Instead, you have to file a Hague Evidence Request. Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.
Here’s how service is accomplished:
Article 5 Service
- Translate the documents… maybe. Although Cyprus’ declaration to Article 5(3) does not specifically require translation into Greek or Turkish, defendants may reject documents not provided in a language that they understand. As such, omitting translations could mean failure. In our experience lately, it hasn’t been a huge issue; we routinely have Cypriot entities served in English only. Still, there’s always a risk that an individual defendant will kick you back to the beginning.
- 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.
- Wire €21.00 to the Central Authority in Nicosia. Yep. With the Euro at about $1.10 U.S. (as of summer, 2023), the fee is just a shade under twenty-five bucks. If your bank is like mine, it’ll cost you more to send the wire than the wire itself.
- Send the hard-copy USM-94 and service documents to the Authority, in duplicate. Send confirmation of the wire transfer, too, just in case something doesn’t show the connection between it and your request.
- Sit tight. It may take a while—likely 3-5 months from submission to return of proof.
Article 10 alternative methods
- Mail service is available, depending on where you are, but it’s a bad idea anyway. If you do select this route, pay particular attention to the venue court’s rules about how mail service is initiated—in federal cases, adhere strictly to FRCP 4(f)(2)(C)(ii).
- Cyprus also allows applicants to directly avail themselves of judicial officers and other competent persons to serve, but the Cypriot declarations are mute as to who is and is not competent. Frankly, the Central Authority is pretty good, so I couldn’t strongly suggest going this route.
Cyprus’ declarations and Central Authority information 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.