In a single day last week, Week Ten of America’s Covid-19 quarantine, I fielded essentially the same oddly segmented inquiry from three different lawyers across the country.  A rather disconcerting inquiry, to say the least.

“Hey, Aaron.  I’ve got an overseas defendant to serve.  I’ve talked to some process servers who tell me that you can’t personally serve anybody overseas right now, so I should just serve by mail.”

When I interject to tell them that, no, that’s a bad idea…

“But they say the Water Splash decision makes it okay.  That’s right, isn’t it?”

Oh, where to begin?  No, no, and no.

Continue Reading No, Water Splash isn’t a gift to litigators.

A sailor unloads the mail, Yokosuka, Japan, 2006. (U.S. Navy photo.)

In order for the Hague Service Convention (HSC) to govern the legal formalities of notifying defendants of claims against them, you’ve got to know where the defendant can be found.  An address is critical to service anywhere, on any defendant, but it can be particularly challenging when it comes to serving U.S. servicemembers stationed abroad– as well as when it comes to serving their dependents* or civilian support staff stationed with them.  It’s especially daunting when those folks live on a U.S. military installation in Germany or Italy or Japan or… any number of other far-flung locales. 
Continue Reading Hague addresses: APO and FPO don’t qualify.

Coolcaesar via Wikimedia Commons.
Coolcaesar via Wikimedia Commons.

“Right” is an arguable concept in this instance, but bear with me.

Among the alternative methods articulated in Article 10 of the Hague Service Convention is service by “postal channels.”  In other words… good old mail service.  That generally includes private couriers like FedEx, UPS, and DHL,

[Covid-19 Pandemic Update, 2020:  Service by mail just became an even worse idea.]

At first glance, simply mailing a summons & complaint is the easiest, most hassle-free way of serving a defendant located abroad.  Looks can be (and in the Hague Service world, usually are) deceiving.  Unless you have no other recourse, it’s an