HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS IN ANDORRA

Andorra, formally the Principality of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked microstate, in the eastern Pyrenees, surrounded by France to the north and Spain to the south. Believed to have been established by Charlemagne, Andorra was administered by the count of Urgell until 1988, when it was given to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell.

The existing principality was created by a charter in 1278. There are two co-princes in charge of it: [A.] the Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia and [B.]  the French president. It’s capital and also its biggest city is Andorra la Vella.

BACKGROUND OF ANDORRA

Andorra is the sixth smallest state in Europe. The Andorran people are a Romance ethnic group of originally Catalan origins.  Catalan is the official language, however, many people also speak Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Consequently, Andorra Process Service documents should be translated before being served accordingly.

Even though Andorra is not an EU member, the euro is its official currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993.

The president of France and the Catholic bishop of Urgell (Catalonia, Spain) serve as co-princes in the legislative co-principality of Andorra. This peculiarity renders the president of France, in his role as Prince of Andorra, an elected king, although they are not chosen by a public vote of the Andorran people. The politics of Andorra take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democracy with a unicameral legislature, and of a pluriform multi-party system. The head of government is the chief executive.

The current head of government is Xavier Espot Zamora of the Democrats for Andorra (DA). Executive authority is wielded by the government. Legislative authority is vested in both administration and parliament.

GOVERNANCE OF ANDORRA

The General Council is the name given to Andorra’s parliament. There are anywhere from twenty-eight to forty-two members of the General Counsel. Elections are conducted between the thirtieth and fortieth day after the dissolution of the previous Council, electing councilors for periods of four years.

Half are chosen in equal numbers by each of the seven administrative parishes, while the other half of the councilors are elected in a single national constituency. Fifteen days after the election, the councilors conduct their inauguration. These elections elect the Syndic General, who serves as the General Council’s top official, and the Subsyndic General, who serves as his right-hand man. Eight days later, the Council convenes once again. During this session, the head of government is elected from among the councilors.

Candidates may be recommended by a minimum of one-fifth of the councilors. The Council then elects the candidate with the absolute majority of votes to be head of government. The Syndic General then informs the co-princes, who in turn install the chosen candidate as the head of government of Andorra. The General Council is also responsible for proposing and adopting legislation. Bills may be brought to the council as Private Members’ Bills by three of the local Parish Councils collectively or by at least one-tenth of the residents of Andorra.

The co-princes have the authority to disband the council and call fresh elections if the head of state is dissatisfied. In turn, the councilors have the ability to remove the head of government from office. After a resolution of censure is passed by at least one-fifth of the councilors, the council will vote and if it obtains the absolute majority of votes, the head of government is ousted.

The judiciary is constituted of the Magistrates Court, the Criminal Law Court, the High Court of Andorra, and the Constitutional Court. The High Court of Justice is comprised of five justices: one nominated by the head of government, one each by the co-princes, one by the Syndic General, and one by the judges and magistrates. The Syndic General appoints a member to rule over it, and the judges serve six-year terms.

The magistrates and justices are appointed by the High Court, as is the head of the Criminal Law Court. The High Court also appoints members of the Office of the Attorney General. The Constitutional Court is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and considering any challenges of unconstitutionality against legislation and treaties. Each of the co-princes appoints one judge, while the General Council appoints the other two. They serve eight-year terms. The Court is presided over by one of the justices on a two-year cycle so that each judge at one time would preside over the Court.

The judiciary is constituted of the Magistrates Court, the Criminal Law Court, the High Court of Andorra, and the Constitutional Court. The High Court of Justice is comprised of five justices: [A.] one nominated by the head of government, [B.] one each by the co-princes, [C.] one by the Syndic General, and [D.] one by the judges and magistrates. The Syndic General appoints a member to rule over it, and the judges serve six-year terms.

The magistrates and justices are appointed by the High Court, as is the head of the Criminal Law Court. The High Court also appoints members of the Office of the Attorney General. The Constitutional Court is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and considering any challenges of unconstitutionality against legislation and treaties. Each of the co-princes appoints one judge, while the General Council appoints the other two. They serve eight-year terms. The Court is presided over by one of the justices on a two-year cycle so that each judge at one time would preside over the Court.

Even if there is a ceremonial army in Andorra, the country does not have its own military forces. Responsibility for safeguarding the country lies mostly in France and Spain. If a crisis arises, such as a natural disaster, the Sometent (an alarm) is activated, and all Andorran men between the ages of twenty-one and sixty must report for duty. 

ANDORRA AND INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS

Andorra is a full member of the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and has a special arrangement with the European Union (EU), it also has observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

On 26 June 2017, the Hague Convention of 18 March 1970 on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters (Evidence Convention) came into effect for the Principality of Andorra. Having acceded to the Evidence Convention on 26 April 2017, Andorra became the 61st Contracting State to the Convention. Andorra has become a Member of the Hague Conference on 11th  June 2015 and is already party to five other Hague Conventions. As a result, Andorra has ratified the Evidence Convention, the conference’s sixth document.

Andorra is not a signatory to either of the two international services of process conventions, hence formal service needs to go under the process of Letters Rogatory:

HOW ARE LETTERS ROGATORY USED FOR ANDORRA PROCESS SERVICE

Letters Rogatory via diplomatic channels is required for official service in all nations that are not parties to an international procedure treaty. Only official diplomatic channels may be used to transmit official diplomatic documents. The long and costly processes are not to be confused with the procedures of The Inter-American Treaty on Letters Rogatory, which does not go via the diplomatic route, even if both ways of service have a confusingly similar name.

Disparities between civil and common law legal systems might make it difficult to gather evidence across borders in international court procedures. The Evidence Convention strives to address these discrepancies by providing a common framework of cooperative procedures to promote and expedite the taking of evidence overseas. The Convention accomplishes this using two different and independent systems: [A.]  Letters of Request and [B.] diplomatic personnel, consular agents, and commissioners

HOW TO DISCOVER EVIDENCE IN ANDORRA PROCESS SERVICE

It is necessary to seek assistance to help in acquiring evidence from outside the country when the case begins discovery. When evidence sought is in a foreign nation, it is required to respect not only relevant state or federal rules but also the laws and regulations of the foreign country where the evidence is situated.

Letters Rogatory is a wonderful technique to create an enforceable decision abroad, and this approach works for process service in countries not signed with the Hague Service Convention. Obtaining evidence or serving documents is easy with a Letters Rogatory, which they suggest. The sole negative of Letters Rogatory is the inherent delay associated with transporting legal papers between foreign agencies. This approach is time-demanding and should be used only when alternative choices are not available. In most situations, Letters Rogatory takes six months to one year for the procedure to finish. This approach should only be used if no process service convention (i.e. The Hague Service Convention) is in place or if the individual is serving a Subpoena.

REQUIREMENTS FOR ANDORRA PROCESS SERVICE

Legal papers are needed to be translated into the official language of the nation of service. It is suggested by the U.S. State Department that papers be translated, although this is only necessary during the formal process service method. In rare situations, a demurer may be filed if papers that have not been translated cannot be comprehended by the defendant

A judicial authority of one Contracting Party may request another Contracting Party to gather evidence or undertake any other judicial act, using a Letter of Request submitted to the Central Authority of the other Contracting Party. To be relevant, the request must pertain to material that will be used in now ongoing or future court proceedings (Art. 1).

The legal authority which executes a Letter of Request must apply its own legislation to the techniques and processes to be followed (Art. 9), including in respect to the application of any suitable means of force (Art. 10). However, the asking authority may require that a specific technique or approach be followed (Art. 9).

This mode of taking of evidence under Chapter I is accessible to all Contracting Parties to the Convention.

PRE-TRIAL DISCOVERY

Pre-trial discovery is a practice in common law nations encompassing requests for evidence given after the filing of a claim but before the final hearing on the merits. Under Article 23 of the Convention, Contracting Parties may, by way of declaration, opt not to execute Letters of Request for the purpose of gaining pre-trial discovery of documents. While some Contracting Parties have made an overall declaration against all Letters of Requests relating to the pre-trial discovery of documents, others have made particularised declarations that impose certain requirements to guarantee a request is adequately substantiated and the evidence sought is explicitly stated.

A diplomatic official or consular representative of a Contracting Party may, without coercion, collect the testimony of citizens of the State they represent (Art. 15). This may be subject to approval from the competent authorities in the State where the evidence is gathered. A diplomatic officer, consular agent, or commissioner may also, without coercion, collect the testimony of other nationals provided authorization to do so has been obtained by the competent authority of the Contracting Party in which evidence is to be taken (Arts 16 and 17). 

For purposes of Chapter II, a diplomatic representative, consular agent, or commissioner must follow local law unless that law conflicts with the law of the Contracting Party where evidence was obtained or is in conflict with authorization provided by that country’s government (Art. 21).

All Contracting Parties are required under the Convention to establish a system of Central Authorities. A Central Authority’s major responsibility is to accept Letters of Request under Chapter I and deliver them to the proper authority responsible for their implementation. Contracting Parties may additionally designate authorities from whom authorization must be obtained for the purpose of collecting evidence under Chapter II. The Convention also allows for the nomination of other authorities and leaves Contracting Parties free to establish the scope of their competence

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR INTERNATIONAL PROCESS SERVICE

The U.S. Consulate General Barcelona is responsible for a consular area consisting of the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Aragon, and the Principality of Andorra. Established in 1797, it is one of the oldest U.S. consulates in the world. In 1997, the US Embassy and Consulate General commemorated the two hundred anniversary of the consulate general in Barcelona.

The Consul General is the representative of the government of the United States of America inside the consular area. The Consular Section provides services to American citizens. The Public Diplomacy Section invites public and press inquiries about every area of the United States and tries to develop mutual understanding via exchanges of individuals and ideas and by conducting cultural activities. The Political and Economic Section studies key political and economic events in the consular area and maintains frequent interactions with local and regional government authorities, as well as with the Principality of Andorra.

American citizens may contact the consular representative and ask to speak to the Duty Officer. No documentary or passport services are offered on nights, weekends, or holidays.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NEXT?

Simply 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 of 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 of 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. Located on the Iberian Peninsula

2. The council also determines the yearly budget of the principality. The government must submit the proposed budget for legislative approval at least two months before the existing budget ends. Until a new budget can be authorized by January 1 of the following year, the current budget is in effect. Once any measure is accepted, the Syndic General is responsible for submitting it to the Co-Princes so that they may sign and implement it.

3. As a result, all Andorrans, particularly the head of each family (usually the oldest able-bodied man in the family), must carry rifles by law despite an explicit promise from law enforcement to provide a firearm in an emergency

4. On 16TH October 2020, Andorra became the 190th member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), during the COVID-19 pandemic

5. Chapter I, Section 92.54 of USC Title 22

6. The Convention also offers a way to gather evidence through unofficial convincing means  (Art. 18). 

7. For questions regarding American Citizens Services: barcelonaacs@state.gov

For questions addressed to the media relations office and questions addressed to the cultural affairs office: pdbarcelona@state.gov

For commercial affairs: madrid.office.box@trade.gov

8. U.S. Consulate General Barcelona

Paseo Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 23,

08034 Barcelona

Spain

 Telephone

+ (34) 932-802-227

 Emergency

+ (34) 915-872-200

 Fax

+ (34) 932-806-175

 Email

BarcelonaACS@state.gov

 Website

U.S. Consulate General Barcelona

9. Consular Section hours available to the public are Monday through Friday from 09.00 to 13.00, except for local and U.S. holidays. If users are an adult renewing their 10-year passports, they must do it via mail. For any normal (non-emergency) services at the Consular Section, visitors must arrange an appointment online.

10. (+34) 91 587-2200

BLOG DISCLAIMER

The information contained herein has been prepared in compliance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act. Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works. The articles/Images contained herein serve as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, educational, and research-as examples of activities that qualify as fair use. Undisputed Legal Inc. is a Process Service Agency and “Not A Law Firm” therefore the articles/images contained herein are for educational purposes only, and not intended as legal advice.