An iconic Shell station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. David Bjorgen via Wikimedia Commons.

Reports the New York Times this morning:

Shell proposes a shift to Britain, dropping ‘Royal Dutch’ from its name.

The Anglo-Dutch energy conglomerate will apparently become just Anglo in the coming months, which begs the question… how do we serve the company when it’s sued in a North American court? Simple answer: effectively the same way we’ve been doing it previously, but perhaps in a different place.

In most U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions, current practice allows for Shell to be served in either London or The Hague, with a similar treaty regime covering both.  Article 10(b) of the 1965 HCCH (Hague) Service Convention allows plaintiffs to effect service by directly engaging either a Dutch gerechtsdeurwaarder (bailiff) or an English solicitor (who in turn instructs a private process server).  The only difference in practice is that the Dutch operate under a civil law system while the English are common law.  That truly has little bearing on how the company gets served under Article 10(b).

So what happens when the company drops “Royal Dutch” from its name and officially moves its mother ship to the foot of the Millennium Eye?  Only one thing… my gerechtsdeurwaarder doesn’t get to serve it anymore.  Plaintiffs still have a fairly straightforward road to service.  But it remains critical to name the company correctly… Royal Dutch Shell plc will likely just be Shell plc in the coming year.