I say all the time that we aren’t building rockets here. But we are building a ship, of sorts, and a leaky ship means that people could not possibly reach North America from Europe. A whole bunch of immigrants from Poland actually did reach North America over the past centuries, and they enriched our culture in a host of different ways– even making Chicago the second-largest Polish city (at least, at one time). With so many family ties to the old country, it’s no surprise that litigation pops up now and again, which means attention must be paid to doing things right.
Serving process in Poland is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention. This holds true regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter. You’ve got three ways to get it done:
- Tap us on the shoulder for bespoke attention—and probably some amusing commentary to boot (see the upper right if you’re on a desktop, or way down below if you’re on a phone/tablet),
- Cruise over to the Hague Envoy platform at USM94.com to automate the completion of your forms in perhaps twenty minutes or so, or
- If you’re feeling froggy & would like to handle the whole thing yourself, keep reading. This lays out the framework you’ll need.
Some background is in order, if you’re so inclined, before we cut to the chase.
- The roadmap to the overall process—the recipe to our Secret Sauce.
- The structure of the Convention itself is discussed in this four-part series.
- And an absolutely critical note: the Hague Service Convention does not pertain to subpoenas. Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena abroad. You have to file a Hague Evidence Request. Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.
Here’s how it’s done in Poland:
Article 5 Service
- Translate the documents. Poland’s declaration to Article 5(3) does not specifically require documents to be translated, but the defendant is afforded a chance to reject untranslated process. That rejection puts you back at square one, and that’s not a fight worth having, if you ask me… just translate it.
- Fill out a USM-94. Be very careful about ensuring that it is complete and concise, and make sure that it is signed by a court official or an attorney. If it is not, make sure that the person signing is commissioned by the court.
- Send to the appropriate Central Authority, in this case Ministry of Justice in Warsaw.
- Sit tight. It may take a while—likely several months from submission to return of proof.
Article 10 alternative methods
- They simply aren’t available, because Poland objects to them all. Article 5 is the only way it can be done.
Seriously—that’s all there is to it. The method is straightforward and simple. Poland’s declarations and Central Authority information—as well as those of all the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.
Bonus practice tip… if you’re defense counsel, always question the validity of service effected on your overseas client. The plaintiff may not have done it correctly. That actually happened once, with a defendant in Norway, and her lawyers were smart enough to fight the issue. The Washington Court of Appeals erroneously thought going outside the Central Authority was okay, but their Supreme Court saw the matter differently.