Judicial Review of Service under the Hague Service Convention

German defendants in foreign litigation can ask the German courts to review a request for service of process under the Hague Service Convention originating from a US court for compliance with the Convention. There are references to this procedure in several US cases, such as In re South African Apartheid Litig., 643 F. Supp. 2d 423, 437 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) or Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler AG, 2005 WL 3157472, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2005) and the question how that mechanism works comes up time and time again in discussions with US colleagues. This post describes the procedure and some recent cases that illustrate the approach of the German courts to – mainly US – service requests. Continue reading

The Hague Convention, Default Judgments and Deemed Service

In a series of judgments on July 3 and July 17, 2012, the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) has ruled on the compatibility of deemed service under German law with the Hague Service Convention. The Court held that only the first court document in a dispute must be served pursuant to the Hague Service Convention. Any subsequent service of court documents can be, in accordance with the provisions of domestic German law, by post. Then, Sec. 184 German Civil Code (ZPO) applies, according to which “two weeks after it has been mailed, the document shall be deemed served.” In the cases before the Federal Supreme Court, default judgments were served by post, and the time period for filing protest (Einspruch) was determined on the basis of deemed service. Continue reading

If You’re Going to San Francisco – Service of Process between Berlin and California

“If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…” It may have been in this spirit that a German couple went to California and got married there in 1997. The love-in was over when of the wife got in motion, returned to Germany and filed divorce proceedings in Berlin in 2006. Process was served on the husband she left back in California – creating an opportunity for the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) to clarify some rather technical, but highly relevant issues on defective service in relation to the Hague Service Convention. Continue reading

A Passage to India

All litigation starts with service of process – and sometimes it looks as though it ends there as well. Some time ago, we needed to serve proceedings in India. One action originated from the Stuttgart District Court, one from Frankfurt. At first sight, things looked straightforward, since India had become a party to the Hague Service Convention of 1965 in August 2007, just in time for our matters which started in 2008 and 2009. So far, so good. But real life is different. Service never happened. And here is one of the reasons why: Continue reading