News dropped last week that Austria has, at long last, ratified the Hague Service Convention, which will enter into force on September 12. Its declarations are yet to be posted to the very excellent HCCH website (they are on the Dutch government’s treaty database…), but one interesting declaration has been highlighted by the good folks at conflictoflaws.net — Austria will not allow service of documents on the state or political subdivisions via the Convention. Instead, Austria’s declaration directs plaintiffs to use diplomatic channels instead of Convention methods (how this plays out relative to FSIA service rules remains to be seen… I doubt it will be very controversial, but easy to fumble).
So, how do you effect service of process in Austria? Well, for the moment, the same way it’s been done all along: a Letter Rogatory, or in the case of government defendants, delivery via diplomatic channels with a translation and Notice of Suit. In about eight weeks, the Convention kicks in and, judging by the declarations, things will work in pretty much an identical fashion as in Germany… but without decentralized authorities.
As such, until early September, I recommend that all service attempts on Austrian defendants be held, in order to avoid the astronomical costs of Letters Rogatory. Trust me– you’ve got time, if we plan things the right way– and it will ultimately be faster anyway.