Pernillan — via Wikimedia Commons.

And most of them have been all along.

Aside from a few notable blips (such as Italy and Spain, which bore the earliest surge of Covid-19 cases in the west, and India, which has been pummeled), Hague Central Authorities around the world kept doing the job even through lockdowns and quarantines.  Commentary that I still get from clients and prospective clients is simply baffling.

“I had a process server tell me that Central Authorities are closed and that nobody’s doing anything.”

(So Aaron shakes his head.  Again.)

No.  Just… no.

For starters, go beyond your process server and talk to actual lawyers who deal with cross-border procedure daily. 

I’m not the only one who will tell you that, while things may have slowed down, Hague Service Convention requests only ground to a halt in a few select places– including the United States for a while.*  By and large, the wheels of Hague justice continued to turn amid the quarantine, and continue to turn today.

No, really– the rest of the world has actually taken monumental steps to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, and just about every country on the planet is doing a better job of it than we are, by any credible metric.**  In a Washington Post op-ed last week, American academic Timothy Searchinger highlighted the dramatic differences between America’s response and the efforts taken by the rest of the world, notably across the Atlantic.

The French lockdown was severe. People were only allowed out, after filling out a form, to take care of elderly relatives or to go grocery shopping. To buffer the economic impact, the government directly paid a portion of salaries for those who could not work. And, voila, it worked. (…)

France and the rest of Europe are just showing what grown-up governments in well-off societies do, which makes our U.S. disaster all the more painful to watch (and for me to rejoin next week, alas).

Oddly enough, I used to predict that France could take 4-5 months from submission of a Hague Request to send a proof back to me.  A dispatch I sent to Paris in early June was back in just five weeks.  I was astounded.

So yes, they’re still open– even Italy, Spain, and India– albeit with a massive backlog, I’m sure.

Go forth, counselor.  (Or tap me on the shoulder and let’s get your defendants served.)


* The U.S. Central Authority is back up and running for Hague Requests nationwide (as of last week).

** By credible metric, I mean number of cases, percentage of positive tests, and the death rate.  Sure, there are outliers, but don’t pop any corks because Russia and Brazil are doing a worse job than we are.