Grace Bailey, Maine Windjammer Cruises, Camden.

[Author’s Note:  This morning, Peggy and I woke up in 1882.  No, really.  We are on board the schooner Grace Bailey for a bit of a break from Missouri’s brutal humidity & heat; if you email me this week, fuggedaboutit.  You’ll get my out-of-office response for the first time in well over two years.  Our floating home cruises by wind off the coast of Maine, lacking internet access and a cell signal and electricity (horror of horrors– we actually have to read books and talk to other human beings while underway!).  It seems the perfect reason to post today’s subject: serving in maritime cases.  Yes, this is written in advance and scheduled to post while we’re sailing, sailing, over the bounding main.  Whatever that is.]

It happens all the time.  I’ll give a lecture or mention what I do at a bar association event, and the colleague I just met will express appreciation for what I do, tell me it’s a really neat niche, and then try to convince himself that our practice areas don’t overlap.  I’m here to tell you that, yes, they do.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Sorry, Aaron.  I’m a bankruptcy lawyer, I’ll never need to serve anybody in a foreign country.  But thanks for doing that CLE.  You’re a funny guy.  (Funny how?  I’m a clown?  I amuse you?)  No, I mean I really like how you got that picture of Ned Stark into your slide deck!

This is Boromir, from the Fellowship of the Ring. It is not Ned Stark.

I don’t react positively, as you might imagine.  [I explain their error here.]

Fortunately, though, folks who handle maritime claims know full well that their defendants are often located abroad– that’s the very nature of oceangoing– so they understand the deal.  What they sometimes don’t understand is the point in my Boromir slide (right up there ^^^).  If they’re serving Hapag-Lloyd, they can’t just serve by mail, even though mail service is clearly acceptable under the Hague Service Convention and the FRCP.  See, both Article 10 and FRCP 4(f)(2)(C) only allow mail service if the destination country allows it, and Germany doesn’t.  But the only way to know that is to either (1) read Germany’s declarations to the Convention or (2) read my blog on how to serve in Germany.

They also often don’t ponder the distinction between a defendant’s acceptance of service and its waiver of service.  There’s a massive difference between the two– one requiring adherence to Hague requirements and the other dispensing with them altogether.

And lest they think that service on Hanjin Shipping is effective by handing the documents to the captain of one of its ships while she’s in port… ahem, no.  You can’t serve the owner by merely tagging its vessel (just as you can’t serve a parent company via its U.S. subsidiary).

If you’re serving…

  • Hanjin or Hyundai, you go to Korea.
  • Maersk, to Denmark.
  • COSCO… China.
  • MSC… SwitzerlandWait– isn’t Switzerland landlocked?  Well, yes, but how many maritime lawyers are part of the Kansas City bar, smart guy?  (Several, as it turns out.)

All of those countries have different declarations & requirements.  And if you don’t satisfy those requirements…

This is Ned Stark.

* One type of maritime issue that doesn’t usually need Hague analysis: cruise ships.  I’m told that the terms and conditions of cruise companies’ tickets usually include a designated agent for service in the U.S.   Who knew?

Peggy and I just took a time warp to 1882.  No, really.  We are on board the schooner Grace Bailey for a bit of a break from Kansas City’s brutal July weather.  All week, we’ll be sailing, sailing, over the bounding main (whatever that is), but not accessible to handle client needs.  If you email me this week, fuggedaboutit.  You’ll get my out-of-office response for the first time in well over two years.  Our floating home is propelled by wind, off the coast of Maine, lacking internet access and a cell signal and… electricity.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my favorite new client, letting her know that I’d be out of pocket all this week.  “When I say ‘out of pocket,’ I mean I will be on this thing…”

Grace Bailey, flagship of Maine Windjammer Cruises.

The thought occurred to me that, fairly regularly, I will field a frantic phone call or desperately drafted email from a lawyer or paralegal facing an imminent service deadline.  Two years ago, I posted “There is no such thing as a service of process emergency” to illustrate (1) the glacial pace at which service abroad can sometimes move, and (2) the widespread safe harbor afforded by court rules.

At the federal level, Rule 4(m), along with the case law construing it in transnational cases, invokes a reasonable diligence standard, and gives ample time to litigators who need to serve offshore defendants.  Just about all state rules (sorry, Wisconsin & Michigan) offer some sort of extension or similar reasonable diligence standard– if not automatically, then by fairly pro forma motion.

The point is…


Really– relax.  Perhaps call Margaret and the good folks at Maine Windjammer Cruises and see what they can put together for you.

As long as you’re not at Day 80 with a 350-page patent infringement claim to translate and serve in China* or some such scenario, you’re going to be okay.  I promise.  I also promise I’ll get in touch with you as soon as I dig out of the thousand emails (not an exaggeration) I expect to have waiting for me when we reach safe harbor at the weekend.**


* In which case, I probably can’t help you anyway, unless you’ve been trying to secure a waiver from the defense.  In any event, a few days is unlikely to upset the apple cart.

** See what I did there?  Safe harbor!  Yeah, yeah– Peggy’s always saying “if you have to explain it, it’s not funny

Add me to the list of Bourdain fans who loved the guy, but who weren’t really in love with the guy.  By his own admission, he was kind of a jerk, and you’d understand if you’d read Kitchen Confidential.  But man, I loved his shows.  All of them.  A Cook’s TourNo ReservationsParts UnknownThe Essence of Em… no, wait.  He hated Emeril (but that’s another story).

I awoke this morning to the news of Tony’s apparent suicide during a shooting trip in Strasbourg, France (yes, fans call him Tony, because screw formality– just eat with your hands, you idiot) and had to wonder just what in the hell is going on in the world.  This on the heels of Kate Spade’s suicide in New York earlier in the week… when the famous and ostensibly happy are this miserable, we’ve got a whole lot of work to do to make the world a better place for each other.  Spade was a local icon in Kansas City, but not somebody I ever really knew anything about.  Bourdain, however, I knew.  And while there’s no way in hell I would ever want to work for the guy, I would love to have had the chance to sit down with him and share a simple bowl of Pho and an ice cold Vietnamese beer, or perhaps dig into a massive plate of Belgian mussles and an ice cold beer or… you get the idea.  His writing and narration style color my own writing style, and he was the type of world traveler I would have had spectacular craich with.  He loved food of all types and he loved other places of all types and cultures of all types and people of all types.

And the world’s a little less interesting without him in it.

Mercifully, he’s still on Netflix.

Update, within an hour of posting… it turns out I’m not the only one who feels the way I do.  Two other blogs that I follow posted far more eloquent eulogies:

Adare, County Limerick.  Oh, yeah– ask for Chloe at Pat Collins.  But be aware what ye say… all the pubs in Adare are related.  Her cousins, Julianne and Jason, work at Auntie Lena’s down the block.

We’ve been on “vacation” since last weekend.  I use quotation marks because, in all reality, I cannot disconnect completely, as it would be a disservice to my clients– all lawyers who need help navigating the cross-border issues that they never touch on in law school.  Everybody with an active matter knows I’m overseas, and they’re incredibly respectful of my time and circumstance, but I take great comfort from the fact that I can still work no matter where I am.  Peggy is not incredibly pleased when I pull out my phone to answer an email, but she understands the challenge.

Just today, a colleague shot me a question that I was able to answer– quickly and definitively, on my phone– from pub in County Limerick, Ireland.  Ponder the practice of law today versus the practice thirty years ago.  Answering that question would have taken either several days or a whole bunch of dollars– probably both, and definitely, not from Pat Collins’ Pub.

But in a matter of minutes, I was able to tell her exactly what she needed and, hopefully, save her client several hundred dollars.  It cost me all of seven cents, thanks to the miracle of the Internet.  I called her and said, “yeah, no worries– do XYZ and you’re fine.”  Not a chance I could have done that in the 1990s.

Our economy is no different– we are part of an interconnected world.  An inextricably linked world.  Personally, I like that.

The Ha’Penny Bridge, across the River Liffey, Central Dublin.

This morning, Peggy and I awoke in Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have traveled extensively since I was a young kid (Army brats never really shake the wanderlust), but until yesterday, the Emerald Isle was an unchecked box on my list.  I’ve been waiting decades for this, and it does not disappoint.  We’re here not only to see the sights, but also to build relationships with colleagues who serve Irish defendants for my clients.  It’s a great mix of business and leisure.

Throughout Dublin, there’s an undercurrent of revolutionary spirit, even a century after the Easter Rising and the subsequent advent of the Irish Free State.  Homages to Daniel O’Connell and Michael Collins and Wolfe Tone are everywhere, much as Washington and Jefferson and Franklin abound in the District of Columbia.  Atop the political history is a layer of culture and vibrancy– and even refinement– that make Dublin truly a world-class capital, even though it governs a country far smaller and less populated than my home state of Missouri.

On the downside, Dublin is expensive, it’s touristy, it’s aged, and it’s a bit grimy.  Just like every other big city.  Hard to criticize a major metro for any of those things when it has so much else to offer.

But the most striking thing I’ve noticed about Dublin is its distinct multicultural atmosphere.  This is, as far as I can tell, among the most European of European cities, perhaps second only to Brussels.  In a few hours’ time, I heard a dozen different languages and encountered people of every hue, faith, and economic class.  It’s not a stretch to predict that, following Brexit, the Celtic Tiger will awaken once again and make Dublin the English-speaking capital of a renewed Europe.

That’ll be exciting to watch.

Aside: I highly recommend the concept of VRBO– Vacation Rental By Owner.  It’s really a cross between AirBnB and a traditional hotel.  For about the same cost as a standard double room in a Hilton or Intercontinental, we have an entire apartment in Smithfield, just steps away from the Jameson distillery (they don’t make whiskey there anymore, but that’s beside the point!).  If you have occasion to visit Ireland’s capital, check out Dublin City Rentals.  Ask for Séamus.  He’s a good fellow.  (And his name is Séamus— there is no name more Irish.)

No, really.  When you travel to Italy, don’t just follow the tour books and stick to Florence & its environs– wonderful though they are.  For just as much Italian culture and scenery (for a significantly lower cost), try Umbria.  Right next door, and only a smidge less enticing than its more famous regional neighbor to the west.

Last fall, on a CLE Abroad Program hosted by my alma mater, I had occasion to visit Spoleto, a beautiful town south of Perugia, and an easy drive up from Rome.  The people there are incredibly welcoming (and who wouldn’t be, when facing a horde of American lawyers?), the scenery stunning, and the economy… well, there’s the problem.  Italy has had a rough go of it since the Great Recession a decade ago.  And, while not as bad off as their Greek neighbors across the Adriatic, unemployment has stayed chronically high, and towns like Spoleto have really borne the brunt of the downturn.

But if you visit, plan on some of the best food you’ve ever tasted, some of the warmest hospitality, and a heck of a pleasant surprise.

They might even give you a tour of the courthouse, complete with the chance to don a judge’s robe.



On the little island of Murano, the glass-blowing subsidiary of Venice, Inc.

Mille grazie, Italia.

I’m exhausted.  My feet hurt.  My back is killing me.

And better moods are rare in my life.  Peggy and I flew back from UMKC Law’s CLE program in Rome last night, along with two dozen friends, both new and old.  Our operational tempo over the prior ten days was high, we walked everywhere, and on each end of the journey, we crammed ourselves into the euphemistically named “Economy Class” seats of American Airlines.  (This is not a slam on AA, but good grief, folks.  Could you have made that sardine can any tighter?)

During two of the free days of the conference, we headed up to Venice on the Frecciarossa (Red Arrow, high speed train) and got to savor cicchetti, some fantastic wine, and unbeatable scenery.  But while drinking it all in, I couldn’t help but imagine Marco Polo around the turn of the 14th century, in his hometown’s heyday.  As we sailed around the island on a vaporetto, the sea spray and cold wind blowing about, I was reminded that this place was where global trade truly began.  It’s by no coincidence that the world still comes to Venice, if for no other reason than to take a few pictures and buy some souvenirs.  It truly is a wonderful place– Peggy’s favorite in all of Europe.

The lawyer in me wonders how 14th century Venetian commerce would have reacted to a Hague Service Convention request.  Perhaps those merchants of old would have just thrown caution to the wind and relied on their formidable naval strength to ward off the procedural gestures of faraway litigators.

But I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t have closed up shop.  The economic engine would have continued to chug right along.


The Basilica (the three-arched building in the upper right corner).  In ancient Rome, “Basilica” meant “courthouse.”  This one was massive.

Ah, Roma.

This morning, I had the distinct pleasure to once again speak on my alma mater’s CLE Abroad Program in the one-time capital of the western world.  To hear my wife describe it, Rome is also the center of the culinary world.*  I cannot argue with this.  It is my third visit to Italy– my second with Peggy– and we intend to avail ourselves of all the gastronomic delights this sunny peninsula has to offer.

While my usual lecture on overseas CLE programs centers on the Hague Service Convention, along with a bit about the Evidence Convention, this seminar’s broader theme is Entrepreneurship and Doing Business in Europe, so I took a different tack with today’s lecture.  Sure, I had to include a bit about service abroad, but the centerpiece was an elaboration on a post from last year, Five Essential Things All Business Owners (and Their Lawyers!) Should Know Before Signing Global Contracts.  We’re in the middle of a series that digs a bit deeper into those five six things (yes, there’s a bonus!).

In addition to speaking, I’ve had a chance already to reconnect with distinguished colleagues in the Italian bar, scholars and practitioners alike.  This is not just a city of ancient relics and tourist attractions.  Rome is also the cradle of what we’ve come to know as “the law” around the world.  Even our fellow common law adherents owe a collective debt of gratitude to those whacky fellows in togas, running around the Forum looking for funny things to happen.  They quite literally created the legal profession as it began in both the common and civil law traditions.  So I’m on a bit of a pilgrimage, as it were.  Going back to pay homage to my our professional roots.

If Peggy says it’s okay, I might even be convinced to wear a toga.

* For some reason (oh, we know the reason– we just can’t say it lest we get sued by the agro-chemical industry), the wheat grown and harvested and milled into flour in Italy doesn’t send Peggy’s immune system into hysterics.  The wheat grown back home in the states?  She can’t touch the stuff without going into a sort of toxic shock.

So the theme for the week: all the food, all the wine, all the art.

Peggy and me in Venice in 2015.  Yes, we’re going back this week.  Too cold for a toga, they tell me.
Glasgow Central Station.  They all meet under the clock, just like we do in Kansas City.  Or at least, like we did when we traveled by train.

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks at the Hague Law Blog– I just returned last weekend from a lengthy trip to Québec, England, and Scotland; and it was a doozy.

For lawyers who haven’t had the opportunity, I’ll say again that foreign lands are the best possible place to get your CLE hours.  Take one of your favorite humans along (daughters take mothers and vice versa, wives take husbands and vice versa… one guy who traveled to Turkey with us a few years ago brought his whole family).  Visit places you’ll never get to see on the regular tour.  Connect with colleagues from back home and abroad.

Insert here yet another shameless plug here for my alma mater, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and its overseas CLE programs.  That’s how I got to Oxford.

The House of Commons, Palace of Westminster (official photo).

And it’s how I came to stand in a place that has witnessed greatness so many times that they’ve literally stopped hyping it.  Before the majority side despatch box (yes, it’s spelled that way) in the House of Commons.  Where Gladstone and Disraeli battled each other, in alternating stints as PM.  Where Thatcher rallied a country ’round the first war I remember.  Where Tony Blair fostered hope and later disappointment.  Where Winston Churchill talked of the blood, toil, tears, and sweat necessary to defeat Nazi tyranny.  How ironic that my visit there came just days before the sadness of Charlottesville and the renewed rise of fascist apologists.

Yet even that sadness does not wholly diminish the joy of the trip.  I was able to see old friends in Glasgow after more than two decades apart, I had a pint in the birthplace of Bilbo Baggins, and I sat in a chair occupied by justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

To top it off, I learned a whole lot, met people face-to-face that I work with regularly only via the internet, and satisfied quite a bit of intellectual curiosity.

All that said, it’s good to be home.

St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. Founded in A.D. 1226, the oldest college at Oxford University and the site of our CLE conference.
The view from the Justices‘ seats, UK Supreme Court.
The Eagle and Child, Oxford. The place where J.R.R. Tolkien concocted the world we know as Middle Earth.

The Hague Law Blog is not entirely about law this week—I am traveling for two different conferences, and taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of different lands.

This week, I finally got to visit the fourth largest French-speaking city in the world (sorry, Marseille and Lyon—you don’t even crack the top ten—African cities take the #2, #3, and the rest of the top ten spots after Montréal).

In college, I majored in French, in large part because I lived in Belgium for three years as a kid (Army Brats unite!) and gained a curiosity about languages very early.  The entire province of Quebec was always a curiosity, and Montréal even more so, because they were right next door to my homeland, and offered a taste of French life without having to leave the continent.  My expectations of this place were exceeded by leaps and bounds—within mere hours of our arrival.

On the Metro Sunday afternoon, I heard no less than seven different languages spoken within earshot at the same time.  And that wasn’t the most impactful moment of the day I shared with my wife…  as we left the Oratory of St. Joseph, I was stunned by a trio of Sikh men, turbans and all, entering a Roman Catholic church for no reason but to behold the grandeur of an incredibly spiritual and holy place.  They were quiet, and respectful, and reverent, and behaved exactly as I would have expected from people of faith—any faith.  It really warmed my heart to have a long-held belief vindicated: it doesn’t matter what philosophy a person espouses.  As long as we respect each other, humanity is on the right track.

Reserved for pilgrims climbing on their knees.

As Peggy and I walked outside to descend the hill and return to our hotel,* we passed several women, ascending the steps to the Basilica on their knees.  That they were ascending on their knees wasn’t the fact that struck me—I’ve been to Rome; I’ve watched pilgrimages happen—what struck me was that they were from India.  Praying in Hindi as they took each step, knee by knee.

If only I had that kind of faith.  If only I had that kind of dedication and fervent knowledge.

Peggy and I continued our descent hand in hand, both smiling, and not saying a word.

Professionally, the trip has been productive.  Personally, it’s been nothing short of wonderful.  The biggest reason?  The people of Montréal are warm, welcoming, and (above all) they embrace other human beings no matter their origin.  That tends to restore my faith in the world.

Merci, Montréal. T’es belle.

* Even our hotel was a curiosity.  The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth… famous for this little event, upstairs in Suite 1742.