HOW THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY WORKS IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

This article will provide guidance on How the central authority works in Antigua and Barbuda.  To facilitate the exchange of legal papers for service, member states of the Hague Service Convention form a Central Authority. This streamlines the procedure and ensures that legal papers are served promptly and properly. Rules and methods for service are laid out in detail in the convention, including the use of standardized forms and the need for translations when applicable. Undisputed Legal has been very active in serving legal papers according to the Hague Service Convention’s specifications. We aim to ensure that we are accountable to our clients, even providing ‘real-time’ email status updates. 

The  Hague Service Convention has been extended to Antigua by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Antigua and Barbuda declared that they consider themselves bound by the Convention. The date of entry into force is the date of independence of this State.  

Regarding resolving cross-border civil and commercial issues, the Hague Service Convention is an indispensable instrument for international legal cooperation. It encourages international judicial processes to be open, fair, and efficient. However, not all nations have ratified this treaty; therefore, non-signatory nations may need to find other means of serving legal papers. Thus, having a trustworthy process service company in your corner is always helpful. At Undisputed Legal, we ensure that your papers are always looked after. We are acquainted with both local and international jurisdictions. Click here for a video on International Process Service

Background

Antigua and Barbuda contain municipal government administrative structures. It has seventeen district councils in addition to its local government workforce. The boundaries of national constituencies are mirrored in the boundaries of district councils. The island of Barbuda was granted a special status and the authority to solicit financial contributions to meet its inhabitants’ requirements.

The district council consists of at least five members, and a chairman and secretary/treasurer are elected from among them. The member of parliament who represents this constituency is automatically an ex-officio member of the committee.  Aside from Barbuda, there is no administration activity at the local level elsewhere. Barbuda Island is governed by an active and functional Barbuda Council. It is an elected body that is established by the Constitution.

Contents of summons in Antigua

A Magistrate may issue a summons when a charge or complaint is made. This can be done if a person is suspected of committing an indictable offense within the Magistrate’s jurisdiction or is suspected of committing such an offense outside the jurisdiction but is likely to be found within it. Additionally, a summons can be issued if a person within the Magistrate’s jurisdiction is suspected of committing an offense punishable by summary conviction. 

The magistrate can issue a summons for that person to appear in court and face the charges. The charge will be based on a complaint, which may be written at the discretion of the Magistrate.

Complaints must be limited to one matter and should not include multiple matters. The prosecutor can file multiple complaints against the same person simultaneously as long as it is lawful. The Magistrate has the authority to handle complaints together or separately, as deemed necessary. Every information or complaint must be signed by the police officer who filed it. Proceedings under such information or complaint will not be allowed to lapse or be deterred. The Magistrate’s Code of Procedure may be affected by a change in the police officer in charge.

No proceedings will be dismissed solely because the Commissioner of Police fails to appear in person or with legal representation. As long as a police officer is present in court to represent the Commissioner, the proceedings will continue. No obligation to refuse summons is stated. If the magistrate refuses to issue a summons, the person can request a written certificate of refusal. They can then apply to a High Court judge for an order to direct the magistrate to issue the summons as directed by the judge.

Summons must be served by a peace officer or another authorized individual. It should be delivered directly to the person it is addressed to, either by handing it to them personally or, if they cannot be located, by leaving it with someone at their last known residence. The individual serving the summons must appear before the Magistrate at the specified time and location to provide testimony, if required, regarding the service of the summons.

The summons was served in a timely manner before the appearance. The Magistrate will gather the necessary evidence and may issue a warrant to apprehend the summoned person and bring them before a Magistrate to address the complaint and take appropriate legal action. At Undisputed Legal, we follow the Hague Service Convention and any other applicable international treaties that may give instructions for serving papers diligently. Our goal is to provide service that does not violate the sovereignty of the receiving nation while also providing swift and accurate service. 

Other Powers of the Magistrate in Antigua

In cases where a warrant is issued, the Magistrate must provide copies of the warrant to each party apprehended. This applies to indictable offenses committed on the high seas, in creeks, harbors, or other places where the Government of Antigua and Barbuda or the Admiralty of England have jurisdiction. It also applies to offenses committed on land beyond the seas, where an indictment may be preferred, or the offender may be arrested in Antigua and Barbuda. The Magistrate can issue a warrant to apprehend the person in such cases, to be dealt with as directed.

Warrants to apprehend individuals can be issued by a Magistrate at any time and on any day. These warrants must be signed and sealed by the Magistrate. The warrant does not need to have a specific return date. It can remain in effect until it is executed. Any peace officer in Antigua and Barbuda can execute it without the backing of another Magistrate in a different district.

 The Court can only set aside a judgment entered if the defendant meets certain conditions. An individual must notify the Court promptly upon discovering that a judgment has been entered. This notification should provide a clear explanation for the failure to submit an acknowledgment of service or defense; depending on the situation, the individual should have a strong chance of successfully defending the claim. Navigating the parties’ requirements in different ways can be tricky. Here at Undisputed Legal, we ensure that we handle multiple papers across jurisdictions and with no hassle to our clients!

It is necessary to submit an Application, an Affidavit in Support (including a Draft Defence and Counterclaim), and a Draft Order. However, it is imperative to begin with the filing and serving of a Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim. 

Central Authority

Antigua has a bilateral treaty with the United States. This treaty does not give rise to a right on the part of any private person to obtain, suppress, or exclude any evidence or to impede the execution of a request. Central Authorities for making and receiving requests under this Treaty must be designated by each Contracting Party. The U.S. Attorney General shall serve as the United States Central Authority. The Attorney General or a designee alone serves as the Central Authority of Antigua and Barbuda.

It is key to note that the Central Authorities directly communicate with one another under this Agreement. Reference should be made to the Registrar of the Supreme Court in Antigua, the Central Authority, as per the Hague Service Convention.  The Registrar is responsible for taking all necessary steps related to appeals and applications under this Act. This includes obtaining a hearing, receiving notices, and gathering all relevant documents, exhibits, and other materials for the Court of Appeal to properly consider the appeal or application.

If the Registrar determines that an appeal against a conviction, based on a legal question, lacks a valid reason for appeal, they can refer the appeal to the Court of Appeal for a quick decision. If the Court of Appeal finds the appeal to be frivolous or vexatious and can be resolved without a full hearing, they can dismiss the appeal without requiring anyone to attend or represent the Crown.

Duties of the Registrar

Documents, exhibits, or other items related to the trial of a person who may appeal will be kept by the trial court according to court rules. The Registrar provides forms and instructions for appeals and applications upon request.  The Registrar also must inform the Court of Appeal or a judge if it seems necessary to assign a solicitor and counsel, or counsel alone, to an appellant, even if no application has been made for it. This power is granted to the Court by this Act. At Undisputed Legal, our experience in serving legal documents spans the globe. We ensure that your service is completed as accurately as possible, even in the face of variability with international service of papers.

Declarations

Antigua & Barbuda has not submitted a formal declaration to Article 5(3), which mandates the use of English for documents. However, it is important to note that English is the country’s official language, and all court proceedings are conducted in English. At Undisputed Legal, we also provide translation services so that your documents are less likely to be rejected by the recipient country.  It is imperative to ensure that the defendant possesses proficiency in the English language, as their U.S. Due process rights are extended to them to some extent.  In order to ensure due process, individuals involved in a legal proceeding within a U.S. court must be served with legal documents in a language they comprehend. Therefore, if an individual does not possess fluency in English, it becomes necessary to provide translation services.

It is also preferable to complete the USM-94 form. It is crucial to exercise caution to guarantee that the document is comprehensive and succinct. Additionally, it is imperative to ensure that the document is endorsed by a court official or an attorney.  If the person signing is not commissioned by the court, it is necessary to ensure that the document is not accepted.

The proof submission and return process typically requires a significant amount of time, often several weeks or even months. This article aims to explore alternative methods that can be used as alternatives to the conventional approach. These alternative methods offer potential solutions to address the challenges and limitations associated with the traditional methods. However, it is difficult to provide a definitive answer.. Upon accession to the treaty, Antigua and Barbuda did not submit any declarations, thus leaving their stance on translation requirements and alternative methods uncertain. Therefore, it can be concluded that the only method that can be guaranteed to have legal effectiveness is Article 5.

Is a US notary valid in Antigua and Barbuda?

A notary is a government-appointed individual who serves as a witness for important document execution. Notary publics can notarize certified translations for legal purposes in Antigua. Notary services are necessary for notarizing documents for legal procedures like obtaining an Antiguan Passport or a work permit. Notarizing the required documents ensures fraud prevention and proper execution. The notary public considers specific factors before authorizing documents. Most significant is the confirmation of the identity of the individual. The notary requires verification of your identity for security reasons. Valid personal identification, such as a passport, is required for the notary to enter it into their registry.   

The notary must also verify that the signers of the documents have willingly signed them, without coercion or force, to prevent fraudulent activity. To obtain legal documents in Antigua (e.g., work permit, Visa, Antigua passport), notarizing certain documents is likely required for any application.

Experienced Notary publics in Antigua can fulfill all your notarial service needs, regardless of the purpose or requirement. Undisputed Legal guides in finding a professional and trusted Notary Public to collect and verify your documents.

OUR PROCESS

Documents can be faxed to (800)-296-0115, emailed ps@undisputedlegal.com, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records. 

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; All documents are received by our receptionist.

DOMESTIC COVERAGE AREAS:

Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota | Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE AREAS:

Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados | Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile|China (Macao) | China People’s Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland | Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg| Malawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | Mexico| MonacoMontenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands| New Zealand |Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland| Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania |Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands| UkraineUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam

OFFICE LOCATIONS

New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 300, Washington DC 20004

FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS

Pick up the phone and call Toll Free (800) 774-6922, or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your process service needs; no job is too small or too large!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A

Sources

1. Under the direction of the Local Government Officer, the district councils have been categorized into four distinct zones. Voluntary Village Councils are strongly exhorted to facilitate the participation of as many citizens as possible. They are then consolidated into a number of district councils.

2. CAP. 255 2 1

3. Any person can make a complaint against someone who has committed an offense that can be punished through summary conviction unless the law specifies that only a specific person or group can make such a complaint.

4. Police officers have the authority to lay information or make complaints in the name of the Commissioner of Police and conduct proceedings on their behalf.

5. If a person commits or is suspected of committing a punishable offense on a ship, vessel, or boat in the waters of Antigua and Barbuda, the Magistrate of the district where the offense occurred or where the ship is located can handle the case. They can issue summonses or warrants and serve them on the ship in Antigua and Barbuda waters.

6. The Magistrate’s Code of Procedure is a legal document (CAP. 255) that outlines the rules and procedures followed by magistrates. If the person served with the summons does not respond or comply. The individual should appear at the specified time and location in the summons. They should also provide sworn testimony to the Magistrate to support warrant issuance.

7. In cases where a charge is made for an offense that can be punished on indictment or summary first conviction, the Magistrate has the discretion to issue a warrant immediately. The Magistrate can gather the necessary evidence to support the charge, issue the warrant to apprehend the person, and bring them before the Magistrate or another Magistrate for further proceedings according to the law. The Magistrate can issue a warrant even if a summons has already been issued before the appearance time mentioned in the summons.

8. The Magistrate’s Code of Procedure allows for warrants to be issued to members of the Police Force and all peace officers of Antigua and Barbuda. The warrant must briefly state the act being charged and provide the name or description of the person to be apprehended. It orders the recipient of the warrant to apprehend the named person and bring them before the issuing Magistrate or another Magistrate for further legal proceedings.

9. When someone is arrested with a warrant, they must be brought before the issuing Magistrate or another Magistrate designated by them. The Magistrate can either order the person to be imprisoned or verbally place them in the custody of the arresting officer or another secure location. The Magistrate can also set a specific time and place for the person to appear before them and must inform the person who filed the complaint. However, the person cannot be held for more than one week.

10. CPR 2000, Part 13, Section 5.

Rule 13.3 of CPR 2000 outlines the Court’s powers to set aside or modify a default judgment. The contents are as follows:

11. Part 12 r. 5 specifies the conditions for a judgment to be entered due to failure to file a defense. The provision is clear and specifies the requirements for applying for judgment in default of defense.

  1. The claimant must provide evidence of serving the Claim Form and Statement of Claim.
  2. The defendant should not submit an Acknowledgment of Service.
  3. The deadline for filing a Defence must have passed

12. No. 12 of 2000. Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Government of the United States of America) Ratification Act 2000.

13. The Notary Public in Antigua has several roles.

  1. Implement oath and positive affirmations.
  2. Collect affidavits.
  3. Verify and authenticate documents.
  4. Fraud detection and reporting
  5. Issuing notarial seals for authorized documents.
  6. Management of legal documents, including deeds, marriage and divorce certificates, contracts, and loan documents.

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