(Author’s Note: this post was held for publication in honor of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who passed on Friday at the age of 93.)

Until this fall, serving process in the tiny-but-thriving nation of Singapore entailed a similar approach to serving in another U.S. state or Canadian province. That is, as a former British colony, it maintains a common law judicial system. As long as a competent process server was involved, and Singapore’s rules were followed in tandem with the forum court’s rule, it was smooth sailing (I always used a solicitor to direct the process server, just to ensure legal validity on both sides of the ocean).  As of December 1, 2023, serving process in Singapore is now subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter. Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean the seas have become rough.

You’ve got three ways to go:

  1. 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),
  2. Cruise over to the Hague Envoy platform at USM94.com to automate the completion of your forms in perhaps twenty minutes or so, or
  3. 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 frequently help with subpoenas.  Repeat after me—you can’t just serve a subpoena in Singapore. At least, not if you want it to have much effect.  Instead, file a Hague Evidence Request.  Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.

Now, here’s how service is effected in Singapore:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents? Well, no. Again, in a former British colony– especially one so immersed in international commerce– English is still the prevalent, official language and English is required for all documents and requests sent to the Central Authority. But that isn’t the end of the analysis– if your defendant isn’t demonstrably competent in English, U.S. due process (in Canadian parlance, natural justice) necessitates that process be served in a language the defendant understands.*
  • 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 it to the Central Authority along with the requisite fee.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely several months from submission to return of proof, although Singapore is brand new to the treaty so there’s no track record yet.

Article 10 alternative methods 

  • They simply aren’t available, because Singapore 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. 

Singapore’s declarations and Central Authority information can be found here.

Bonus practice tip #1: if the idea is strategically sound, ask the defendant to waive service.  Note that I didn’t say accept— I said waive.  There’s a very important difference.

Bonus practice tip #2: if you’re defense counsel, always question the validity of service effected on your overseas client.  The plaintiff may not have done it correctly.

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Photo by Rick Jamison on Unsplash

Friends, we’re not building rockets here– but we are building a ship of sorts, and a leaky vessel means the cargo may not make it to its destination.  Likewise, a leaky approach to procedural rules can thwart an otherwise strong case just as it gets underway.

Serving process in Antigua and Barbuda is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter.  A&B is a stunning pair of islands in the Caribbean– formerly a British colony and still part of the Commonwealth of Nations, and thus part of the common law tradition that we know so well on the North American continent. As such, service of process is viewed quite similarly, without much fanfare. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of uncertainty in the islands’ view of the Convention, so I can only recommend a single road to effective service.

You’ve got three ways start that road:

Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Antigua and Barbuda

Colonia Tovar, Aragua, Venezuela. Photo by Jorge Salvador on Unsplash

I say all the time that we’re not building rockets here.  But we are building a ship of sorts, and a ship that can’t keep water out means cargo doesn’t make it to its destination.  Serving process in Venezuela is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter.  Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Venezuela

Tblisi City Assembly. Mostafa Meraji, via Unsplash.

[Ahem… we’re talking here about the European nation with Tbilisi as its capital– not the American state between Alabama and the Atlanta Atlantic Ocean.]

As of January 1, 2022, the Hague Service Convention is in effect for the Republic of Georgia, so service of process there is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention. Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Georgia

Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Budapest. Victor Malyushev via Unsplash.

Sorry, folks.  Set aside thoughts of goulash, the Gabor Sisters, and nice chess games at a thermal bath… you’re litigating here, not sightseeing.  But with a Hungarian defendant, the procedure before you really isn’t overly challenging.  Service in Hungary is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention. Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Hungary

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk… he’s still very big over there. A bit like George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and FDR all rolled into one in the local zeitgeist.

[Ten years ago, I had the great pleasure of visiting the Republic of Turkey on a CLE adventure.   A dozen lawyers (some with their families!) had an amazing time hitting seven cities in ten days… and meeting some truly wonderful people.  In a nod to that country’s wishes, I’ll spell it Türkiye* from here on out.]

Service of process in Türkiye is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention. Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Turkey (Türkiye*)

Offloading medical supplies in the waning days of the 1989 revolution. U.S. Air Force photo.

For most of my childhood, Romania was one of those countries that adventurous travelers wanted to see… we just couldn’t go there because it was behind the Iron Curtain, a Soviet puppet state ruled by a ruthless dictator.  That changed dramatically in December, 1989,* when the world got to watch that dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, removed from power and his Communist regime toppled.  Three decades on, Romania is not only democratic, but a member of the European Union and NATO, literally the front line between the Ukrainian War and the west.  I could go on, but this is about civil procedure, so… Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Romania

Flag of Portugal at the Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon. Berthold Werner via Wikimedia Commons.

Portugal is erroneously considered the “little brother” of the bigger country next to it on the Iberian Peninsula.    It has its own culture, its own language, and one heck of a lot more progressive recent history than its neighbor-who-shall-not-be-named.*  At one time, it was a global colonial power, and it counts some of the 16th century’s greatest explorers among its sons.   Pertinent to litigators today, serving process in Portugal is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter.  Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Portugal

Quite possibly the coolest national flag in the western hemisphere.  After all, Maserati apparently adopted in for its logo

We aren’t building rockets here.  But we are building a ship of sorts, and a leaky hull means the cruise ship might not get you to that cabana sheltered rum drink you’ve been craving.  Serving process in the Barbados is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which venue is hearing the matter. Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Barbados

Ministry of Justice, Warsaw. Adrian Grycuk, via Wikimedia Commons.

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. Continue Reading How to Serve Process in Poland