“The Blue Marble”, by the crew of Apollo 17, on December 7, 1972.

The most critical question in serving a defendant is “WHERE?”  More specifically…

Where is the defendant located?

Where can you serve him/her/it?

Where must you serve him/her/it?

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?*

Let’s face it– we Americans collectively suck at geography, despite the valiant efforts of Carmen San Diego’s creators.  Many of us can’t find Russia or China on a map, but whoa, do we either love or hate them.  Geography has never gotten its due in the educational realm– it’s just something you have to suffer through, like P.E. or Home Ec (both utterly vital to societal health).  It was simply not a priority in the days after Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin frightened the living bejeebers out of us and prompted the first shift toward STEM, and it’s still not a priority.  Consequently, it’s little wonder that even highly educated professionals (I’m looking at you good folks in the practicing bar) today have trouble visualizing where one place sits in relation to another.

I guess I shouldn’t complain.  If everybody knew this stuff, I wouldn’t have a job.  But if you can’t tell me where the defendant is, I can’t get them served.  It’s just that simple.  To go a step further, if you can’t give me a location, I can’t even tell you what options are available to you.

Several geographical distinctions are absolutely critical in determining how to properly serve an overseas defendant, and they all go to the question “where?”

Next week, we begin a new series that focuses less on how to operate under the Hague Service Convention, and more on “the where driving the how.”  The areas we’ll address, in no particular order:

  • The British Isles
  • Canada
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Israel and the Palestinian Territories
  • China in general
  • The Pearl River Delta in particular

Suggestions about additional places are welcome.  Stay tuned.

* For the record, I was a massive geography nerd as early as five– after all, Uncle Sam sent our family to a far-flung part of the globe called Belgium.  I could name all the capitals of Europe by the age of six.  The Carmen San Diego game didn’t come out until I was in high school, and the TV show when I was in college, so I couldn’t ever say I was a fan– and I really couldn’t tell you a thing about the game or the show beyond “um, yeah, it’s all about teaching kids geography.”