UPDATE, October 1, 2020: The Hague Service Convention has entered, so an entirely updated post can be found here.
UPDATE, September 7, 2020: Because the Hague Service Convention goes into force on October 1, I suggest either a bit of patience or a bit of urgency. They cut both ways. As we have no practical information as yet, I can’t say what the Philippines’ preferences will be once the treaty takes effect. What I do know is that its application will be mandatory as of that date, it nobody can say as yet whether Article 10 will be available. We also can’t say whether translation (likely into Tagalog) will be required. Either hurry up and get it done via an agent, or wait to serve via the Office of the (Supreme) Court Administrator under Article 5. Oh, and do the translation, just to be safe.
Watch this space for updates… nothing really to say just yet, as I usually just advise clients to serve by mail if their defendants are in the Republic of the Philippines. There’s currently no treaty in force, Letters Rogatory take seemingly forever, and I have yet to find a private agent or law firm there who (1) understands fully what I seek, (2) is willing to take the project on for less than an outrageous fee, and (3) I trust to actually do what needs to be done.* Remember that old lawyers’ saying “you want good, cheap, and fast… pick two of those.” That’s pretty much been my approach to service in the Philippines for the past five years.
But the official Philippines News Agency made a significant announcement today:
The Philippines will soon accede to the Hague Service Convention, a treaty that simplifies the process of serving court documents on parties living in another state, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Malaya bared (sic) Thursday.
This is tremendous news, especially for the many individual litigants whose attorneys contact me for service in divorce actions, but also for the many business owners involved in disputes with Philippine parties. I don’t see any indications as yet whether the Republic will object to Article 10 and its alternative methods, but this space will be updated as soon as the answers to that question and others are made available.
UPDATE: The Philippines acceded to the Convention effective March 4, 2020, but it does not enter into force until October 1, 2020. Aside from Central Authority information, the Hague Conference website still lacks additional information as to the Philippines’ views on the treaty.
Still.. stay tuned.
* The Department of State offers that “service of process in the Philippines may be effected by mail, by agent, such as a local attorney, or through letters rogatory. Litigants may wish to consult an attorney in the Philippines before pursuing a particular method of service of process, particularly if enforcement of a U.S. judgment is contemplated in the future.” Enforcement is right at the top of my list of concerns where a litigator chooses a simplistic means of service– particularly mail, which I generally recommend against— but in the Philippines, it’s usually the only realistic method.