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Special Interest Robert S. Elliott, Esq. Perfecting Service on Defendants in Foreign Countries1 Th e Rules Committee explained the where there can be international actors and mercial Matters (Hague Service Conven- creation of Alabama Rule of Civil Proce- where international rules apply. In an ever- tion)8 and the Inter-American Convention dure 4.4 by stating, “Th e increasing and shrinking global community, practitioners on Letters Rogatory.9 It is important to re- ever-expanding commercial nature of the need to be versed in at least the basics of member that neither treaty authorizes ser- Alabama economy required the inclusion of international litigation. vice, only a statute or court rule from State such a procedural rule.” 2 Th at is from 1977. Th e 1977 complete overhaul of Rule or federal law can do that.10 Th ey merely Pre-internet. Since that time, international 4 was featured as part of its extensive re- provide for the process. interaction has expanded dramatically in visions of Rule 4.4, Alabama’s fi rst Rule THE HAGUE CONVENTION our State, not only by businesses with in- dedicated solely to service of defendants ternational interactions and a fl ood of in- in a foreign country. It was revised to mir- Th e United States ratifi ed the Hague ternational products, but through families ror Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f) Convention in 1969. 72 nations are party as well. Divorces, adoptions, custody, child in structure in 2004. Present day Rule 4.4 to the Convention. Each of the parties may support, and estates are all areas of the law retains the original substantive features of have certain reservations, which must be complied with under the terms of the Con- that original 1977 rule.3, 4 Th e Rule incor- vention.11 Th e Convention applies to civil porates the bases for asserting jurisdiction and commercial matters12 involving par- beyond State lines found in 4.2(a) requir- ticipants from diff erent countries. Th e Con- ing a basis for in personam jurisdiction un- vention is not preemptive of all methods so der federal due process law and a statute or long as the foreign country has not imposed court rule authorizing service.5 Rule 4.4 service limitations.13 Under Article 2 of the allows for service of international liti- Convention, each signatory state has a des- gants in fi ve ways: (1) according to in- ignated Central Authority.14 Litigants can ternational treaties, (2) according to eff ect service through the specifi ed Central the law of the foreign jurisdiction, Authority. Th is is accomplished by fi lling (3) through a Letter Rogatory out the required forms: (1) a Request for or Letter of Request, (4) per- Service Abroad of Judicial or Extrajudi- sonal delivery, including certi- cial Documents and (2) a Summary of the fi ed mail, and (5) through other Documents to Be Served, both of which are means directed by the court model forms.15 not prohibited by international agreement.6 Under Article 3 a U.S. lawyer for a party seeking service, as an offi cer of the Th is is an important point. court, is authorized to act as a requesting In Alabama, international authority.16 In addition to the Forms, cop- agreements control and service ies of the documents to be served must be should not be completed by any included. Th e documents must be translat- other means if an international ed into an offi cial language of the foreign agreement is in place.7 Th ere are two country, but the required forms may be in major international agreements that English, French, or an offi cial language of lawyers should be aware of: Th e Conven- the country where service occurs.17 Once tion on the Service Abroad of Judicial and completed, the party seeking service mails Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Com- continued on page 14 12 Birmingham Bar Association


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