(Author’s note: go back and watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Treat yourself. No, not the Johnny Depp version– the one starring the late, great Gene Wilder.)
A few years ago, I posted The Hague Certificate– all the proof you need, a fairly straightforward missive that outlined the normal instrument that proves up Hague service (Article 5 service, that is), and the solid precedent set down by Northrup King v. Compania Productora Semillas, 51 F. 3d 1383, 1390 (8th Cir., 1995). In short, if you have a defendant served pursuant to Article 5 and the foreign Central Authority issues a Certificate to that effect, you’re solid.* The court doesn’t get to parse through the record to make sure it was done in accordance with the foreign country’s procedural rules.
The Certificate is your Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. Now, in isolation, the Certificate doesn’t tell the court everything it needs to know, so some context is needed, but some Central Authorities go a bit overboard with their context. Some others demonstrate that their bureaucrats are simply creating extra paperwork to justify their own jobs.
A word of caution: don’t file all that extra stuff with your Certificate.
Why? Because if you include the whole sheaf of documents provided by a bloated bureaucracy, the court will make you translate it, and that can be a pricy undertaking for documents that literally have no bearing on proving up service. Unless they’re listed on the Certificate itself, ancillary documents are not legally significant– and even if they are listed, their inclusion may not be necessary if the Certificate includes all the necessary detail. Think Violet Beauregarde, the Wonka guest who just wouldn’t listen to the fellow whose name was on the sign out front. Too much of a good thing cost her dearly. Sure, in litigation, too much information is better than not enough, but if you throw a ream of inconsequential documents (in Spanish, no less) at the judge, a whole lot of time and money will be wasted, I guarantee.
The goal in filing proof of service is to demonstrate that you’ve done it effectively. That truly doesn’t take much in light of Northrup King and in light of the simplicity of the prescribed form of proof. So when you get a bunch of stuff back, limit the filing to the Certificate and the other three pages of the Hague Request you sent overseas in the first place. That should take care of it.
* This presumes that the Certificate is predicated on a valid Request.