I give you… phở, (pronounced FUH, as in “fun”)  the most amazing bowl of soup in the solar system and, coincidentally, the national dish of Vietnam. North or south, it’s amazing.  No, really– love yourself enough to eat this stuff on the regular.  Codename5281 via Wikimedia Commons.

For most of my childhood, Vietnam was considered an enemy state– run by a totalitarian regime worthy of America’s scorn.  My parents’ generation fought a brutal war there, and endured a bitter division about that war here at home.  The whole idea of Vietnam was a painful wound in our nation’s psyche.  Mercifully, that changed in 1995 when Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had spent seven years as a prisoner of war in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”, argued successfully that we should normalize relations.  It was (and remains), after all, a country filled with amazing people and a culture that goes back millennia.  [Around the time President Clinton did normalize relations that same year, I discovered my all-time favorite lunch at a great little family joint in my hometown.  See above.]  But I digress.  On to business…

Since October, 2016, serving process in Vietnam has been subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter.

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 pertain to subpoenas, at least, not with any coercive effect.  Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena in Vietnam.  You have to file a Letter Rogatory, roughly similar to a Hague Evidence Request (although Vietnam is not party to the Hague Evidence Convention).  The same Cardinal Rules apply—this is dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.

Now, here’s how it’s done in Vietnam:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents, and provide a signed certification from the translator. Vietnam’s declaration to Article 5(3) requires it and, although the defendant may speak flawless English, omitting translated documents will prompt the Central Authority to reject your request.
  • 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 to the Central Authority in Hanoi.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely several months from submission to return of proof.

Article 10 alternative methods

  • Mail service is available, provided the delivery requires a signed receipt, but I’ve always argued that it’s a bad idea anyway for precisely that reason.  If you do select this route, pay particular attention to the venue court’s rules about how mail service is initiated—in federal cases, adhere strictly to FRCP 4(f)(2)(C)(ii).
  • Engaging “other competent persons” under Article 10(b) or 10(c)?  Nope.  Sorry.

Seriously—that’s all there is to it in Vietnam.  The method is straightforward and simple.

Vietnam’s declarations and Central Authority information—as well as those of all the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.

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

Valetta, Malta’s capital.
Briangotts via Wikimedia Commons.

We aren’t 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.  Serving process in Malta is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter.  This chain of islands, a former British colony off the southern coast of Sicily, isn’t just the site of a boat race in Season 1 of The Crown.  It is also home to stunning scenery, bright sunshine, and a wonderful blend of English, Italian, and North African cultures.  Malta is a relatively new member of both the European Union and the Hague Service Convention– and service of documents is fairly straightforward.

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 confer coercive effect on subpoenas.  Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena abroad.  At least not if you want it to work. You have to file a Hague Evidence Request.  Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.

Here’s how service is effected in Malta:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents. English is one of Malta’s official languages, so game over, right?  Pack up and go home?  Not so fast, counsel… make sure your defendant speaks English, because his U.S. Due Process rights follow him, in a sense.  Anybody sued in a U.S. court must be served in a language they understand, so if they don’t speak English, translation is still necessary.*
  • 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 to the Central Authority.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—perhaps several months from submission to return of proof.

Article 10 alternative methods

  • Here’s where we run into a snag.  Malta hasn’t indicated whether Article 10 methods are available or not.  My best recommendation: leave them alone, and just send to the Central Authority.  Although most countries’ declarations and Central Authority information can be found here, the only info provided for Malta is a place to send Article 5 requests.
  • Down the road, the mystery may be resolved.

That’s it.  Really all there is to service in Malta.

But a bonus practice tip… if you’re defense counsel, always question the validity of service effected on your overseas client.  The plaintiff may not have done it correctly.

Old High Court and Supreme Court, Wellington. Pear285, via Wikimedia Commons.

Just off Australia’s east coast lies a gorgeous chain of islands known today in large measure for its huge population of Elves, Orcs, and Dwarves (and one very grumpy little fellow).  Before New Zealander Peter Jackson filmed his Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, New Zealand was famous primarily for (1) the Māori Haka,* especially performed by its powerhouse All Blacks national rugby union team, and (2) sheep.  LOTS of sheep.  Oh, and then there was this guy.

New Zealand is not party to the Hague Service Convention (HSC), although it has acceded to the Hague Adoption, Apostille, and Child Abduction Conventions.  Notwithstanding its absence from the HSC, serving documents in New Zealand is relatively straightforward, owing to its status as a former British colony and current member of the Commonwealth of Nations.  It maintains a healthy common law system, so it should not be unfamiliar to American or Canadian** lawyers.

Service of U.S. (and most likely, Canadian) process can be effected (1) by mail, if permissible under forum court rules, (2) by Letter Rogatory, or (3) via private process server.  In all cases, enforcement of a judgment must be kept in mind– and it is in that light that I recommend Door #3 for just about every case that come across my desk (yes, I’ll be happy to handle things for you).  Addressing each in turn:

  1. Mail:  Most U.S. courts, where service is allowable by mail to begin with, allow mail service on foreign defendants only where it is not prohibited by the rules of the foreign jurisdiction.  New Zealand’s High Court Rules do not specifically prohibit mail service, but they also don’t specify how mail service should be effected unless a P.O. Box is involved.  Frankly, I’m still not a big fan of service by mail– it’s a bad idea when there are other practical methods available.
  2. Letter Rogatory:  an official request from the forum court for judicial assistance from a New Zealand court.  Costly and time consuming, this instrument really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (see here for elaboration on what it is).  For starters, budget a $2,275 fee to the Department of State just to convey the thing.  Then anticipate several months of waiting before a response comes back through diplomatic channels.  A Letter Rogatory simply isn’t necessary to ensure that service is effected according to New Zealand law.
  3. Private process server:  Not incredibly costly, and certainly on a more solid factual footing than mail.  A New Zealand process server can ensure that local rules are followed, thus ensuring that the manner of service will not give a court cause to reject an enforcement action later.  Just make sure that the proof of service demonstrates compliance with both bodies of law (High Court Rules, Part 6— if you’re curious– and forum court rules).

Some non-Hague jurisdictions present significant problems with service.  New Zealand is definitely not one of them— indeed, it is among the simplest places to serve, either within or outside the Hague community.


* See my earlier post on the value of Choice of Language clauses.

** Commonwealth procedures may govern the manner in which Canadian process should be served in New Zealand.  The author is not admitted to practice in any non-U.S. jurisdiction, so although the information presented here may be accurate, it should not be presumed to be exclusively applicable in Canadian causes of action.


You really didn’t think I’d let this post end without a picture of a Hobbit Hole, did you?

Tom Hall, via Wiki.
Image by user “chaitawat“, WIkimedia Commons.

My May 18, 2018 post “How to Serve Process in China… important updates”  highlighted a pair of developments in the submission of Hague Service Convention requests to the Central Authority for the People’s Republic of China.  In short…

  1. They moved.
  2. You can’t send a fee check anymore.  Wire transfers only.

Not great news, but hopefully the post helped clear up a bit of confusiion.

Well, today I learned that the Chinese are leading the charge into the 21st century (yeah, the one we’ve been in for almost two decades) by establishing an online portal for submission of requests.  No more printing, no more FedEx or UPS delays, and no more wondering if the paperwork actually reached the right desk in Beijing. From the folks at the International Legal Cooperation Center, a unit of the Ministry of Justice in Beijing:

Dear Colleagues,

To improve the efficiency of judicial assistance in civil matters, our Ministry has developed an online Civil and Commercial Judicial Assistance System. We invite you to use this newly launched system to submit any request for judicial assistance in civil and commercial matters in the framework of Hague Service Convention, Hague Evidence Convention and bilateral treaties signed between foreign countries and China.

Please log onto www.ilcc.online, register and use.

We hope to see your requests coming onto the system very soon.

For the record, I’ve signed up but have yet to use it– I sent a couple of traditional hard copy requests over just last week– but will update this space as soon as I have a basis to comment.

And for an even more important record, other countries ought to follow China’s lead and do likewise.*


* In my original version of this column, I opined that the U.S. should especially follow China’s lead.  Turns out, we already do that, and we did it first.  ABC Legal, the company designated to process requests on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, provides just such an online portal.  My apologies to both for not knowing that– I don’t handle inbound requests, obviously, and I should have looked into the matter before lodging a criticism.

The Supreme Court, Manila. Aerous, via Wikimedia Commons.

UPDATE, October 1, 2020:  The Hague Service Convention has entered, so an entirely updated post can be found here.

—————————————————

UPDATE, September 7, 2020:  Because the Hague Service Convention goes into force on October 1, I suggest either a bit of patience or a bit of urgency.  They cut both ways.  As we have no practical information as yet, I can’t say what the Philippines’ preferences will be once the treaty takes effect.  What I do know is that its application will be mandatory as of that date, it nobody can say as yet whether Article 10 will be available.  We also can’t say whether translation (likely into Tagalog) will be required.  Either hurry up and get it done via an agent, or wait to serve via the Office of the (Supreme) Court Administrator under Article 5.  Oh, and do the translation, just to be safe.

—————————————————

Watch this space for updates… nothing really to say just yet, as I usually just advise clients to serve by mail if their defendants are in the Republic of the Philippines.  There’s currently no treaty in force, Letters Rogatory take seemingly forever, and I have yet to find a private agent or law firm there who (1) understands fully what I seek, (2) is willing to take the project on for less than an outrageous fee, and (3) I trust to actually do what needs to be done.*  Remember that old lawyers’ saying “you want good, cheap, and fast… pick two of those.”  That’s pretty much been my approach to service in the Philippines for the past five years.

But the official Philippines News Agency made a significant announcement today:

The Philippines will soon accede to the Hague Service Convention, a treaty that simplifies the process of serving court documents on parties living in another state, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Malaya bared  (sic) Thursday.

This is tremendous news, especially for the many individual litigants whose attorneys contact me for service in divorce actions, but also for the many business owners involved in disputes with Philippine parties.  I don’t see any indications as yet whether the Republic will object to Article 10 and its alternative methods, but this space will be updated as soon as the answers to that question and others are made available.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE:  The Philippines acceded to the Convention effective March 4, 2020, but it does not enter into force until October 1, 2020.  Aside from Central Authority information, the Hague Conference website still lacks additional information as to the Philippines’ views on the treaty.

Still.. stay tuned.


* The Department of State offers that “service of process in the Philippines may be effected by mail, by agent, such as a local attorney, or through letters rogatory.  Litigants may wish to consult an attorney in the Philippines before pursuing a particular method of service of process, particularly if enforcement of a U.S. judgment is contemplated in the future.”  Enforcement is right at the top of my list of concerns where a litigator chooses a simplistic means of service– particularly mail, which I generally recommend against— but in the Philippines, it’s usually the only realistic method.


Supreme Court of the Republic of Cyprus. Seksen iki yüz kırk beş, 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 vessel means the cargo may not make it to its destination.  Serving process in Cyprus is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. or Canadian venue is hearing the matter.  Cyprus has a rather complicated history, even in recent decades– and the island has been divided between Greek and Turkish ethnicities in the south and northeast, respectively, since the 1960s and ’70s.  Though not as bitter as several decades ago, the division nonetheless remains, and service in the Turkish region may not be as straightforward as in the Greek.  The following focuses mainly on the Greek portion of Cyprus, although Greek and Turkish officials may cooperate to effect service on behalf of foreign applicants.

Some background on the Convention 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 confer coercive effect on subpoenas.  Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena in Cyprus.  At least, not if you want it to actually work.  Instead, you have to file a Hague Evidence Request.  Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.

Here’s how service is accomplished:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents.  Although Cyprus’ declaration to Article 5(3) does not specifically require translation into Greek or Turkish, defendants may reject documents not provided in a language that they understand.  As such, omitting translations could mean failure.
  • 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.
  • Wire €21.00 to the Central Authority in Nicosia.  Yep.  With the Euro at parity with the U.S. dollar (as of fall, 2022), the fee is just a shade over twenty bucks.  If your bank is like mine, it’ll cost you more to send the wire than the wire itself.
  • Send the hard-copy USM-94 and service documents to the Authority, in duplicate.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely 3-5 months from submission to return of proof.

Article 10 alternative methods

  • Mail service is available, depending on where you are, but it’s a bad idea anyway. If you do select this route, pay particular attention to the venue court’s rules about how mail service is initiated—in federal cases, adhere strictly to FRCP 4(f)(2)(C)(ii).
  • Cyprus also allows applicants to directly avail themselves of judicial officers and other competent persons to serve, but the Cypriot declarations are mute as to who is and is not competent.  Frankly, the Central Authority is pretty good, so I couldn’t strongly suggest going this route.

Cyprus’ declarations and Central Authority information—as well as those of all the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.

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

 

Waterfront Dr, Road Town, Tortola. Kevin Stroup via Wikimedia Commons.

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 British Virgin Islands is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. venue* is hearing the matter– in exactly the same way as service in England and Wales.

Still an overseas territory, the United Kingdom has extended the Convention’s coverage to the archipelago.  A critical note, though… that archipelago straddles an international boundary– between the United Kingdom and the United States.  On one side, the BVI, and on the other, the USVI.  Some confusion tends to result when someone calls me to “serve a defendant in the Virgin Islands” and I respond… which Virgin Islands?

If you’re serving in the United States territory, handle it no differently than you would in Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia.

But in the British islands… think Hague methods.  And that might need to happen a lot, given that over 400,000 business entities are chartered/organized under BVI law.  (You’ll want to make sure you name them correctly!)

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 another absolutely critical note: the Hague Service Convention does not confer coercive effect on subpoenas.  Theoretically, you can serve it, but it won’t do much good.

And the nuts & bolts aspect of our show, in case you need to serve a resort or one of the corporations that have set up a figurative (ie: legal) home in the BVI:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents. But the UK’s declaration to Article 5(3) requires that documents be in English, so… game over, right?  Pack up and go home?  Not so fast, counsel… make sure your individual defendant speaks English, because his U.S. Due Process rights follow him, in a sense.  Anybody sued in a U.S. court must be served in a language they understand, so if they don’t speak English, translation is still necessary.
  • 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 to the Central Authority.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely several months from submission to return of proof.

Article 10 alternative methods

  • Mail service is available, but it’s a bad idea.
  • Service via private agent (process server) is available to U.S. litigants under Article 10(c). This is absolutely criticalmake sure to have the process server instructed by a solicitor, or the attempt to serve is ineffective, as it violates the UK’s position on Article 10.

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

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


* For Canadian litigators, Hague channels are certainly available, but there may be a Commonwealth mechanism that makes the procedure even simpler.


Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, much speculation has been thrown around, concerning whether certain members of the Commonwealth of Nations might jettison their membership, kick out the monarchy, and go it alone as a republic.  That’s not in the cards for the BVI– it’s not an independent state.  It’s a British Overseas Territory.

Yeah, cruise ships dock there. A lot. [Prince George Wharf, Nassau Harbor. TampAGS, for AGS Media, via Wikimedia Commons.]
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 Bahamas is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which venue is hearing the matter.  No longer an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, the Bahamas adopted an independent constitution in 1968,* and fully implemented the Service Convention thirty years later.  Not even 200 miles off south Florida, the islands get a whole bunch of tourists– and commerce– from the U.S. & Canada, and lawsuits are a natural result.

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 confer coercive effect on subpoenas.  Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena abroadYou have to send a Letter Rogatory (the Evidence Convention isn’t in effect in the Bahamas).  Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.

Now for the nuts & bolts aspect of our show:

Article 5

  • Translation: The Bahamas make no declarations to Article 5(3) of the Hague Service Convention. As a former British Colony, English is the operating language, so game over, right?  Pack up and go home?  Not so fast, counsel… make sure your individual defendant speaks English, because his U.S. Due Process rights follow him, in a sense.  Anybody sued in a U.S. court must be served in a language they understand, so if they don’t speak English, translation is still necessary.
  • 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 to the Central Authority, along with the requisite fee.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely three or four months from submission to return of proof.

Article 10

  • The Bahamas do not object to service via Article 10 methods.
  • Mail service is available, but it’s a bad idea anyway.
  • Service via private agent (process server) is available to U.S. litigants under Article 10(b)/10(c).

Central Authority information for the Bahamas and for the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.  Pretty straightforward stuff down there; not a lot of fanfare, if you’re careful and complete the right paperwork.

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


* Interestingly, the UK didn’t see it that way until five years on, with the “grant” of full independence in 1973, although Queen Elizabeth remains the islands’ sovereign.  Even more interestingly, the Queen’s uncle– who had abdicated, making her father king– was governor of the islands from 1940-45.  Not a bad gig, if you ask me.

The Martyrs Monument and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews.

[Scotland is, without question, my favorite country to visit, and I’ve been coming since college.  Nice people here.]

Most of us in the U.S. have a fairly cinematic image of Scotland in our heads– usually something to do with Gene Kelly waking up in a mystical village & falling in love with Cyd Charisse (and who wouldn’t?), or Mel Gibson with half a blue face, before he really went nuts, or a time traveling romance in the Highlands.  The beach in the picture above?  Yeah… three words: Chariots of Fire.

But there’s quite a bit more to this northern half of Great Britain.  I could tell stories for hours, but this post is about procedure, so here we go…

Serving process in Scotland is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. venue is hearing the matter, but the Scots have a slightly different system than in their fellow UK (for now?) members.

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.

Now, here’s how service is done in Scotland:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents. The UK’s declaration to Article 5(3) requires that documents be in English.  Game over, right?  Pack up and go home?  Not so fast, counsel… make sure your defendant speaks English, because his U.S. Due Process (Canadian Natural Justice) rights follow him, in a sense.  Anybody sued in a U.S. or Canadian court must be served in a language they understand, so if they don’t speak English, translation is still necessary.
  • 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 to the Central Authority.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—perhaps several weeks from submission to return of proof– but by global standards, this is lightning fast.

Article 10 alternative methods

The U.K.’s declarations and Central Authority information—as well as those of all the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.

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

The seaside village of Pittenweem, Kingdom of Fife. I seriously met Ronald McDonald in a pub there. No lie.
(Wm. Grimes, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Our handy-dandy “How to Serve Process in China” guide has been posted for quite some time.  Pretty straightforward stuff, given that the Chinese declarations to the Hague Service Convention eliminate Article 10’s alternative methods from the equation.  There’s only one way to get it done, and that is by filing a USM-94 with the Ministry of Justice in Beijing.  On its face, a seemingly simple undertaking… rock & roll that thing on over to the PRC.

Not so fast, though.  It’s always been a bit more complicated than that.  For starters, the Chinese bureaucracy is excruciatingly slow– historically, they’ve taken six to nine months to return a proof of service.  Lately, though, more than a year passes, and there are rumblings in the transnational litigation community that they’ve stopped executing U.S. requests altogether.  But Hague strictures remain mandatory doctrine in U.S. procedure [see Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694 (1988) for more], so you have to at least attempt it.  And unlike their counterparts in Russia, the Chinese have not expressly stated that they will not execute U.S. Hague requests.  Instead, China assesses a reciprocal fee of $95 per request– as a countermeasure to the U.S. fee charged due to Congress’ outsourcing of the Justice Department’s Central Authority function.*

But recently, two critical developments have come to light, and practitioners need to know about them:

First, the reciprocal fee can no longer be submitted by check.  The fee has to be wired to our friends in Beijing, and a wire transmittal confirmation must accompany the Hague request instead of a bank draft.

Second, they moved!  And they didn’t tell anybody for a couple of months.  The new address for China’s Hague Central Authority:

Ministry of Justice of China
International Legal Cooperation Center
No.33 PingAnLi XiDaJie
Xicheng District, Beijing,100035
People’s Republic of China

Critical information right there.  And there’s been no official notification to the Hague Conference for a website update– as of this writing, the Conference’s site still shows the old address (which is summarily walled off, my courier tells me) and it can only be updated upon official notification from Beijing.  An update is coming eventually, I’m confident, but meanwhile a good many requests could be lost in the ether.  [UPDATE:  The Hague Conference website has been updated, as of June, 2018.]


* I still happen to think the Russians are completely justified in their recalcitrance.  I also think the Chinese are completely justified in their reciprocal fee requirement.  The Convention prohibits fees, but we charge one anyway because Congress decided we didn’t need all those gubmint employees drawing a paycheck.  Now, to be sure, the Central Authority function is outsourced to a top-flight organization– and I’m a huge advocate of outsourcing where it’s reasonable.  But the United States charges foreigners a fee for something that ought to be a routine government function, provided at public expense.