No, really. I’ve argued ’til I’m blue in the face that Hague mail service is a bad idea. Sure, it might be perfectly valid from a legal perspective, but factually… oy vey, you got problems, friend.
But even the legal perspective just became murky. A few minutes ago, I got an email from the good folks at FedEx, conveying a message that I’m sure UPS and DHL will send out shortly.
We want to do our part to help prevent the spread of (microbe-who-must-not-be-named) in our communities.
That’s why effective immediately, we won’t require you to physically sign for most deliveries made in the U.S. It’s just another way we’re focused on Safety Above All – now, and always.
Visit our (Dark Microbe) customer site for more details and to learn more about how FedEx is responding as this situation evolves.
“We won’t require you to physically sign for most deliveries made in the U.S.”, you say?
Well, what about in other countries?
See, one of the federal requirements for valid mail service abroad is that the form of mail used require a signed receipt (yes, that includes FedEx and UPS and DHL). It’s right there in Rule 4(f)(2)(C)(ii):
(f) Serving an Individual* in a Foreign Country. Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual—other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed—may be served at a place not within any judicial district of the United States:
(2) if there is no internationally agreed means, or if an international agreement allows but does not specify other means, by a method that is reasonably calculated to give notice:
(C) unless prohibited by the foreign country’s law, by:
(ii) using any form of mail that the clerk addresses and sends to the individual and that requires a signed receipt; or
Set aside the fact that the vast majority of the world (by population and land mass, if not by market capital) objects to mail service under the Hague Service Convention. Even where it’s acceptable, the Voldevirus just made things more complicated.
The takeaway? Don’t try to do it the quick & easy way. Use a more factually sufficient method.
Related post on Due Process:
Civ Pro for 4L’s: the Mullane standard and service abroad
* Entities fall under this rule, too, thanks to 4(h)(2): at a place not within any judicial district of the United States, in any manner prescribed by Rule 4(f) for serving an individual, except personal delivery under (f)(2)(C)(i).