This article will provide guidance on how the central authority works in France. In civil and commercial matters, the United States and France are signatories to The Hague Service Convention on Service Abroad. The Convention establishes a Central Authority, in this case the French Ministry of Justice, to administer proceedings. Click here for a video on International Process Service.
France is a semi-presidential parliamentary democracy and a republican state. The two houses of parliament, the Assemblée National, and the Sénat, make up the bicameral parliament. Regions (régions), Departments (départements), and Municipalities are France’s three tiers of government. Implementing their budget and establishing rules for specific areas allow them to carry out their duties, although they do not have the power to make laws.
A private process service agency like those at Undisputed Legal can be helpful in ensuring your papers are served in France. For example, governmental bodies and public officers in France can only be served under administrative law. As such, a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal that is aware of the specifications of French process service becomes significantly more useful. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!
How to request PROCESS service of papers abroad
A ‘Request for Service Abroad of Judicial or Extra-Judicial Documents’ (LLA-116 or USM-94) is the proper form to use when requesting service in France, which includes a certification of service, a synopsis of the papers that need to be served, and a request for service overseas.
The Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Judiciary International Assistance is the Central Authority for France
The request form must be in English or French, and our Undisputed Legal process servers ensure that we comply with the language requirements for the Hague process service. Although a bilingual version of the form is available, French authorities are hesitant to accept an English-only form. For practical reasons, it is advisable to include a French translation of the request, summary, and certificate of service sections with the completed form. Certification of the translation is not required.
The French Central Authority forwards all requests to the relevant ‘Procureur Général’ (the American equivalent of a district attorney), who allocates them to the local police. Both the service itself and the return of the certificate of service are free of charge when handled by the French Central Authority. It takes a few weeks to complete this procedure.
A French ‘huissier‘ (a government-licensed official process server) may serve the legal documents without any problems from the French Ministry of Justice. The government will establish the rates at which a fee will be imposed. To get a signature notarized before meeting with a U.S. consular official, the huissier who has been served the process may visit any U.S. embassy or consulate. It is important to note that the huissier is typically the only individual who may serve papers. Private process service in France can thus be very confusing. Only experienced private process service agencies like those at Undisputed Legal are adept at serving papers herein.
PROCESS Service in France
Direct mailing to the French party is an option in uncontested divorces and other situations if the French party is cooperative. The party may visit a U.S. consulate official in person to confirm receipt of the paperwork and sign the affidavit waiving service. A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal, which has local process servers, can help identify when mail service may be an approach to take. However, mail delivery is not considered part of the CPC, and often, it cannot be admitted into France’s legal system after submitting evidence if the bailiff cannot find a defendant. The bailiff may, however, use email to serve the process if the defendant has already given their assent. A private process server cannot be used for the majority of proceedings. It is common practice for the bailiff to execute service. Anyone authorized to accept the process on behalf of the defendant (such as a lawyer) may be served with legal documents. Click Here for information on the Code of Civil Procedure in France.
The defendant’s home or regular address might be used to serve the process. The main business office or any sufficiently autonomous branch office of a company is considered the address for the purposes of entering into contracts with and legally obligating the company to other parties.
In a typical civil case, the defendant is typically served with the claim papers once filed with the court. When a cause of action has occurred in separate countries, there are a number of important considerations to make first, including the regulations of the court that has jurisdiction over the claim, especially if they conflict with the service regulations of the court or tribunal having jurisdiction over the matter as well as ways that may be served in one jurisdiction. A question here comes in as to whether the claim should have been initiated and sent within the applicable restriction period. Our local process services can help address these questions upon serving papers since not following the regulations on service might hurt the claim and make it harder to resolve limitation concerns.
Based on the location of the claimant or defendant and the nature of the dispute, many civil courts may have the authority to consider the claim. In the past, the primary courts were the High Court (Tribunal de grande instance) and the Magistrates’ Court (Tribunal d’instance). But on January 1, 2020, the Judicial Court was formed by merging these two courts into one (Court of Justice) Claims and lawsuits involving business companies are heard by the Commercial Court (Tribunal de Commerce).
In order to establish jurisdiction over the defendant and notify them of the court proceedings,
any and all court notices or summonses, or other legal papers used in the serving process, including the petition, the statement of claim, the particulars of the claim, and any other relevant papers, should be served on the defendant.
Civil Procedure Code in France
The process of serving the defendant with the claim initiates the legal procedures. Initiation of civil proceedings may be achieved by the filing of the papers. The claim must include precise phrases and facts outlined in Article 56 of the Civil Procedure Code, including those unique to the jurisdictional court that will hear the case. A competent court must be named in the suit. After the defendant is served with the claim in the Judicial Court, the claimant is required to provide a duplicate of the return of service to the court.
A bailiff, also known as a huissier de justice, must be hired by the claimant to serve the defendant with the claim. Claims brought before the Commercial Court are the only ones that need a filing fee. The exact amount could change depending on where the court is located.
Domestic and foreign services have a place in the Civil Procedure Code in the absence of an applicable international treaty. In addition to serving the defendant with the claim, the bailiff also issues a summons to appear before the court for a hearing. Subsequently, the claim is submitted to the court. The defendant is not required to receive any notice from the court. Typically, a bailiff will be appointed to execute the service. The claimant has four months from the date of service to submit an additional copy of the claim to the Judicial Court.
Claims in other courts must be filed with the court and served on the defendant at least fifteen days prior to the hearing. The permissible means of serving are determined by the kind of request submitted and the court that initiates the proceedings. One of three procedures is often required for a bailiff to make service [A.] personal service; [B.] substitute service at the defendant’s normal place of residence with any person present at that time, and [C.] notifying the standard place of residence that the claim may be collected at the bailiff’s office by leaving the claim documents there.
In cases when the defendant’s whereabouts are uncertain, the bailiff must document the steps done to ascertain their whereabouts. In most cases, heard by the judicial need by submitting a duplicate summons to the clerk’s office Court, any side may ask to have the matter remain. Assuming at least fifteen days’ notice of the hearing date, Article 754, CPC states that delivery must be made at least fifteen days before that date. Except in certain cases (Articles 760 and 761, CPC and Article), all parties involved in a case before a Judicial Court must be represented by an attorney.
As a public officer, the bailiff is responsible for the serving process. Evidence of service is included in the bailiff’s report. As evidence of service, the bailiff provides the claimant with a certified copy of the act. If the defendant resides in a member state that is not subject to French jurisdiction, then service by email cannot be processed in France. It is up to the presiding court to decide whether the defendant has had enough time to show up, and the party bringing the claim might ask for a default or an ex parte ruling.
Critical Considerations for French Process Serving:
It is crucial to serve the procedure in France promptly to avoid the problem of pendency if the choice is made to start the case before a court outside of France. The document must be served by the Central Authority of the State itself or by an appropriate agency. The method of service can be either the one prescribed by the state’s internal law for domestic actions or the one requested by the applicant, provided that it is not incompatible with the state’s law.
The Central Authority reserves the right to stipulate that any document to be served according to the first paragraph above must be either written in or translated into the official language or languages of the State to which it is directed. The document to be served includes the portion of the request that provides a synopsis, as it is connected to this Convention.
It may be reasonable to utilize local French counsel since the non-French plaintiff’s legal counsel is used to choose and collaborate with French cuirassiers (French bailiffs). Our Undisputed Legal process servers are local to the area and can ensure that your papers are delivered according to the laws of the state.
Additional Process Service Choices in France
Another non-exclusive method for serving of process is provided under Article 10 of the Hague Convention on the serving Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, which was established on November 15, 1965. Assuming the receiving state does not raise any objections, the convention does not limit [A.] the ability to send court documents directly to foreign addresses via postal channels; [B.] the ability of state officials, judges, or other competent persons to have their documents served directly by officials or judges in the receiving state; and [C.] the ability of any party to a court proceeding to have their documents served directly by officials or judges.
The Central Authority can sometimes be surpassed when using a French process server. However, as with most other countries, service by mail is not always encouraged with the Hague Service Convention. The French Defendant may legally claim that the service was not legitimate by utilizing the requirements of Article 688-6 of the French ‘Code of Civil Procedure.’ Therefore, it is advised to attach a translation of the summons if it is not already in French. However, if the addressee is not fluent in the language of the procedure, they have the right to deny notice and request a translation or an additional French translation, both of which will be paid for by the petitioner.
French courts have the authority to refuse to enforce (grant exequatur of) specific foreign final and executory judgments based on French internal law, so non-French legal counsel for a non-French plaintiff should not assume that choosing a non-French judicial forum will result in the best outcome. The choice of venue issue, if the potential defendant is French, is something that a local private process server like those at Undisputed Legal can be helpful with.
Notaries in France
Unlike their American counterparts, French notaries are chosen by the Ministry of Justice and serve as public officials. Notaries are regulated by legislation, and there is a limit on the number of them in each jurisdiction. Their duties include notarial acts creation and recording, administration and settlement of estates (except litigation in court), and acting as a repository for wills. They also handle deeds, marriage contracts, acts of incorporation, and wills. They are highly trained professionals in the field of law, although they are not solicitors per se. Court proceedings are not open to them.
A ‘notaire’ service is usually necessary to settle an estate in France. Every real estate transaction requires the services of a notaire, a government-appointed lawyer who is integral to the process. A notaire is responsible for drafting and recording the relevant legal documents, as well as for collecting and remitting any applicable taxes (including inheritance taxes), and for delivering the titles of the property. A notary public may help with more than just real estate transactions; they can also close bank accounts, resolve outstanding invoices, and facilitate the sale or gift of personal property. If a person dies without leaving a will, it is the notary public’s job, often assisted by genealogists, to determine who the rightful heirs are. It is unnecessary for an heir to be physically present in France to settle an inheritance.
If the American citizen has property or assets worth more than five thousand euros, it is necessary to hire a notary. The contents of a rental property owned by a deceased may be accessible to heirs under certain conditions. The only way for the heirs to arrange a rental or mortgage is to speak directly with any landlord or age.
An affidavit attested by a Consular Officer, known as a ‘certificate d’hérédité consulaire,’ may be issued by the Embassy to help with estate planning. The heirs should consult the entity in possession of the personal effects to determine if such a document is acceptable. For concerns pertaining to estates, the French government appoints public and ministerial officers known as notaries.
Appointed by the Minister of Justice, a notaire is entrusted by the State with the duty of public service. The State entrusts the latter with some of its public power in order to fulfill its mission: it guarantees the public service of authenticity. This implies that it obtains various forms of governmental power from the State. By adding their stamp and signature, a notaire may validate actions. Once publicized, the act becomes actionable against anybody else who could be in violation of the same.
In France, a notary public’s primary function is to advise clients on their legal matters and to create and record civil law documents (such as wills, marriage contracts, company formation documents, and real estate purchase agreements) that do not involve litigation. These documents typically include real estate, family and inheritance, and corporate law.
For several reasons, including but not limited to establishing the legality of an act, it is essential to seek the counsel of a notary public, make use of the authentication ability, and adhere to the fact that, in some instances, their aid is needed. In addition, the client better understands the implications and legal ramifications of the agreements they are about to sign. This safeguards the client’s interests by preventing them from acting in opposition to them. A notary’s attestation further proves that a duplicate is identical to the original. Consequently, it may be necessary for the completion of certain legal processes, such as registering with the cadastral registry.
Legal laws establish the notary’s fees due to the notary’s obligation towards the public interest (‘une fonction d’intérêt public’). The compensation statute establishes fees with both set and proportionate rates. Yet, notaries have the right to unilaterally and directly negotiate their costs with customers for some services, such as business leasing agreements. The worth of the legal act (‘unite de valeur’) determines the costs for the legal actions stated in the compensation act described above. The value of the act determines the fees, which are defined by legislation. The value of the legal act is also a factor in determining the expenses associated with the formalities of the act.
A ‘clerc de notaire’ is a clerk who helps notaries with their day-to-day tasks. A first clerk, or ‘premier clerc de notaire,’ is highly specialized among clerks and has extensive education and experience in their field. A notary public may appoint the first clerk to counsel customers and write contracts and other legal documents.
Power of attorney in France
‘Procuration’ is another French word for power of attorney. A procuration is a formal document that grants another person the right to act as an agent and make decisions in an individual’s place. The person’s personal or financial problems might be the subject of these choices. For example, if the principal (the person in issue) can no longer make reasonable judgments on their own, the law may give a procuration to the agent.
At the time of creation, the document must outline the boundaries of the agent’s authority, including the choices they are and are not allowed to make. The principal’s approval to delegate decision-making authority to an agent is necessary for a procuration to be legally binding. In the absence of such a condition, the document shall not have any force or effect.
Certain regulations govern the process of procuration, including the qualifications of those who may grant and receive powers of attorney. Most important becomes the principal’s condition and the parameters within which another person may be granted decision-making authority.
One must be of legal age and mentally competent to make their own choices about their own money and personal matters in order to provide another person the authority to make decisions on their behalf. It is illegal in France to provide power of attorney to someone who lacks the mental competence to do so.
Looking at the parameters of this procedure, it becomes clear that the agent must be someone the court system trusts, including a French lawyer. This will guarantee that the agent is acting honestly and with the principal’s benefit in mind. All choices must align with the procurement’s substance and no one else’s business. The most common situations requiring a power of attorney in France are those involving substantial sums of money or the principal’s private affairs. Anyone may utilize a power of attorney to handle the principal’s money and personal affairs, including opening and closing bank accounts, paying taxes, doing business, and signing legal documents.
In France, there are four forms of power of attorney [A.] a General power of Attorney; [B.] an Enduring Power of Attorney; [C.] a Protective Power of Attorney; and [D.] a Lasting or Future Power of Attorney. The particular requirements of the principal and the reason for requesting the power of attorney will determine this to a large extent. The principal voluntarily grants decision-making authority to an agent under this conventional power of attorney, which the agent then uses to carry out the principal’s wishes. This is typically what a General Power of Attorney is.
There is a crucial distinction between ordinary and protective powers. What differentiates one action from another is the motivation behind it. A principal may appoint one or more people as their ‘protective power of attorney,’ granting them decision-making authority if the principal cannot do so. The principal’s financial and personal interests are therefore safeguarded.
To safeguard the principal in the event that they ever lose mental ability, a lasting power of attorney, sometimes called a mandat de protection future, is established. If this happens, the agent will be responsible for handling the principal’s money and personal matters as if they were their own. If the principal has already lost all mental ability, it is not possible to establish a mandat de protection future.
When a standard power of attorney expires, a posthumous power of attorney takes effect. In the event of the principal’s death, the agent can make decisions about the principal’s companies. It is mostly aimed for company chiefs. This may be put in place to assist a weaker successor who is not yet prepared to handle the responsibilities of inheriting this inheritance.
It could be difficult to understand the French power of attorney process. The law surrounding powers of attorney is intricate and multi-layered, making them difficult to grasp. Our Undisputed Legal staff can be helpful if you need assistance with the service of the process according to French law. If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a review. Click the link to share your feedback, and we would greatly appreciate a five-star review.
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