HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS IN VENEZUELA

This article will provide guidance regarding Venezuela Process Service.  Venezuela is a federal presidential republic. The chief executive is the President of Venezuela, who also serves as the nation’s head of state. The President carries out executive duties. Legislative authority rests with the National Assembly. Legislation can be initiated by the executive branch, the legislative branch (either a committee of three members of the National Assembly), the judicial branch, the citizen branch (ombudsman, public prosecutor, and controller general), or a public petition signed by at least 0.1% of registered voters.

The voting age is eighteen, and participation is mandatory.

BACKGROUND

According to Venezuela’s 1999 constitution, a plurality vote is required to elect a president, and all Venezuelans are entitled to participate in the process. It is the president’s job to oversee the country’s overall management, safeguard its national interests, and lead its armed forces as the country’s Commander-in-Chief. Foreign policy decisions are in the hands of the president, as are emergency declarations, suspensions of constitutional rights, and calls for special sessions of the National Assembly. The presidency has a six-year term restriction; however, presidents may run for re-election an infinite number of times. This includes making nominations to the executive cabinet (the Council of Ministers or Executive Cabinet), deciding on the number of members and their positions, and appointing the vice-presidents for each of the many sectors. Presidential impeachment is susceptible to recall (revocatorio) at the conclusion of a president’s term like other elected authorities.

As leaders of government agencies, ministers serve in a cabinet (Consejo de Ministros). A difference between statutory ministries (a certain number of ministries needed by law) and ministries of state has existed in Venezuela for some time (ad-hoc, temporary in nature).  The cabinet is presently governed by Decree No. 2.378 of July 13, 2016. There are five sectorial vice-presidencies (Vicepresidencias Sectoriales) in the new decree, which increases the number of ministries from twenty-seven to thirty-one (the previous decree had 27 ministries

The bicameral Congress (which included a Senate) was replaced by a 162-member unicameral National Assembly under the new constitution. The Chamber of Deputies, which is presided over by one of its members, becomes the new legislative body. Since the First Amendment to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (2009) eliminated the restriction on the number of re-elections, deputies serve five-year terms and may be re-elected for an endless number of successive terms. Direct, universal, and secret voting is used to elect legislators using a mix of party lists and single-member districts. Venezuelan indigenous peoples have three seats allotted for them.

As of the most recent election, the National Assembly now has a total of two hundred and seventy-seven members. In spite of the fact that demographic fluctuations necessitate some variance in the number of National Assembly members, the most recent rise was politically driven. Each district in the nation elects its representatives in a proportionate manner to its population for the purposes of elections. Proportional representation is used to elect the representatives of each state.

 It is possible for the national executive, legislative, and judicial powers to work together to bring about legislation, as long as there are at least three National Assembly members who are willing to take part. 

At least two debates are required before the Assembly votes and adopt the legislation, following which the president has ten days to approve it, make changes to it, or ask for a review of its contents. To override President a request for a National Assembly vote to revisit a law, a majority of the National Assembly must approve it. The measure will become law if this happens. Only when the president’s objection is founded on an allegation of unconstitutionality does the Supreme Court have fifteen days to issue a decision. The statute takes effect if the court does not rule or if it rejects the president’s accusation.

VENEZUELA JUDICIAL SYSTEM

Typical of civil law regimes, the Venezuelan standards are arranged in a hierarchical order. The constitution is the most important collection of rules. There are many hierarchical tiers of legislation passed by the Assembly under this system. Ordinary actions or ordinary laws are the majority of legislation (leyes ordinarias). The Assembly, in its main role as a legislator, is the source of these common laws, which are in the strictest sense of the term. Other than those that will be dealt with by other types of legislation, they deal with everything. Only a simple majority and presidential approval are necessary for approval. All decretos with the rank and authority of a law (decreto con fuerza de ley or D.F.L.) and delegated laws to have the same status as enabling laws (leyes habilitantes). Organic acts or charters or organic laws (leyes orgánicas) are at a higher level. Special consideration should be given to the last two types of legislation.

A two-thirds majority of the National Assembly must approve any measure for the adoption or change of organic legislation, and it must be sent to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s Constitutional Chamber for a judgment on its legality before it may become law.

One of Venezuela’s most important courts, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia), is located in Caracas. One twelve-year term is allotted to the thirty-two magistrates chosen by the National Assembly. It is the Committee for Judicial Postulations, which talks with organizations that deal with legal matters as well as organs of civil authority, that makes the appointment recommendations.

Both plenary and specialized chambers are available to the Supreme Tribunal, which is the last court of appeal. In all, there are six different chambers or divisions in the court system: constitutional, administrative, electoral, civil, criminal, and social (primarily agricultural and labor) problems appeals. Laws and regulations that disagree with the constitution may be overturned by the Supreme Tribunal, which is given the authority to do so. Additionally, it considers cases involving diplomats and high-ranking government officials, as well as certain civil lawsuits brought by the state against private citizens.

COURT SYSTEM IN VENEZUELA

District and municipal courts, as well as trial and appellate courts, are part of the lower court system, which handles civil and criminal cases. Accordingly, courts in these countries (to some degree) are organized hierarchically and are competent based on the amount of money involved in the case or the seriousness of the case. Courts of the first instance (tribunales de primera instancia) and superior or appeal courts (tribunales de primera instancia) deal with civil and commercial disputes, respectively (tribunales superiores). Most of the time, a matter may only be heard in one or two courts before it may be appealed.

In addition to the prosecutor general, who advises the courts on criminal cases and raises issues of public employee misconduct and constitutional rights violations, the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs (Ministerio de Justice y Interior) is responsible for overseeing the prison system and the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional).

The Ministerio Publico (public prosecutor’s office) is a self-governing, top-down structure. It does not fall within the purview of either the executive or judicial branches. In order to better fulfill its duties as a defender of constitutional freedoms, democratic ideals, the public good, and the rule of law in general, the 1999 constitution gave it more autonomy. For seven years, the National Assembly appoints the prosecutor general (Fiscal General), who is entrusted with pursuing crimes and protecting the people’s interests in those situations when no party initiative is necessary to initiate or maintain such prosecution. To hold accountable public officials who have incurred civil, labor, military, criminal, administrative, or disciplinary responsibility in the execution of their official responsibilities, the prosecutor general also files any relevant action.

Each of these organizations has a particular duty to perform, but together they form the “Republican Moral Council,” which reports to the National Assembly on its operations and serves as a teaching tool for the protection of civic virtues and democratic ideals

CROSS BORDER SERVICE IN VENEZUELA

Legal proceedings need Venezuela Process Service, but cross-border cases necessitate expensive and time-consuming service. A common framework for the transmission of judicial or extrajudicial papers to be served overseas is established by the Service Convention in order to simplify this procedure.

A central transmission channel is established between the Contracting Parties, although there is still the option to utilize other channels. There are no substantive provisions pertaining to the actual Venezuela Process Service addressed or included in the Convention, which focuses on document transfer. As a result of the Convention, there are two methods for transmitting documents that involve Venezuela Process Service: direct diplomatic or consular channels and the postal system. All other transmission routes covered by the Convention need an extra step to complete service to the final addressee that is not controlled by the Convention.

SERVICE OF LEGAL PAPERS ACCORDING TO THE HAGUE CONVENTION

On October 29, 1993, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela accepted the Convention of 15 November 1065 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, popularly known as the Hague Service Convention, and its provisions came into effect on July 1, 1994.

To serve a document in accordance with the Convention, the address of the person to be served must be known, and the Venezuela Process Service document must pertain to a civil or commercial issue, as defined by the Convention (Art. 1). Conventional indicates that if certain Venezuela Process Service conditions are satisfied, the Convention’s transmission channels must be used. It is vital to keep in mind that the legislation of the forum will decide whether or not transmission to another Contracting Party is required.

The Central Authority of the Contracting Party where Venezuela Process Service is to be performed receives a request for service from a competent authority or judicial officer in one Contracting Party through the Convention’s primary route of transmission (Art. 5). The request must adhere to the Convention’s Model Form. Venezuela Process Service of a document must be carried out by a competent official in accordance with local legislation of the requesting Contracting Party. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when an application (i.e., the forwarding authority in the desired Contracting Party) requests a specific method or Venezuela Process Service procedure, as long as it does not conflict with that country’s legislation and does not violate international law. If Venezuela Process Service was not completed, an explanation for why is required to be included in the certificate that is appended to the Convention.

This freedom to use alternative channels for Venezuela Process Service is protected by the Convention in Articles 8 and 9, as well as Article 10(a) of the Protocol, which allows Contracting Parties to use diplomatic or consular channels, postal channels, direct communication between judicial officers, officials, or other competent persons, or direct communication between an interested party and one of these individuals.

All Contracting Parties to the Convention are required to have a Central Authority in place. It is the primary responsibility of a Central Authority to accept and requests for Venezuela Process Service of papers. Additional authorities may be designated by the Contracting Parties, and the scope of their competence may be determined by the Contracting Parties. The Venezuela Process Service standards of the receiving nation must be respected regardless of the requirements of the forum; otherwise, execution of a decision may become difficult. As a condition of Venezuela’s participation in the accord, all papers must be translated into Spanish. The Central Authority will not accept materials that have not been translated.

The defendant must also be able to comprehend what he or she has been given in order to be afforded due process. Requests should be completed in duplicate and sent directly to Venezuela’s Central Authority for the Hague Service Convention together with two copies of the papers to be served and translations. The person who executes the request form in the United States must be either an attorney or a clerk of court. The applicant must include the title attorney or court clerk in the identification and address areas, as well as in the signature/stamp section. Venezuela has expressly protested to postal service under Article 10 and does not enable postal service.

Also party to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol are the United States and Venezuela. The United States has treaty relations exclusively with nations that are parties to both the Convention and the Additional Protocol on Service of Process. No formal letters or rogatory are necessary for the classic sense.

The Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs is the Venezuelan authority authorized to accept letters requesting the collection of evidence under the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence. Once the service has been performed, the documents are sent back to the Central Authority of the requesting State by Diplomatic Channels. According to Venezuelan law, all documents sent to the courts must be translated into Spanish.

Request Letters and supporting documentation must be produced in triplicate and translated into Spanish. These requests must be conveyed by the seeking court or individual in the United States to the Venezuelan Central Authority; diplomatic procedures are not required.

Venezuela objected to the rules of Chapter II of the Hague Evidence Convention concerning the voluntary deposition of witnesses by commissioners, including private lawyers and consular personnel. Therefore, depositions of willing witnesses in Venezuela must be conducted in accordance with a request to the Venezuelan Central Authority and inside the Venezuelan judicial system.

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Sources

1. U.S. Embassy, Venezuela

Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50

Bogotá, D.C. Colombia

Telephone: +(57)(1) 275-2000

Emergency: +(57)(1) 275-2000

Fax: No fax

Email: ACSBogota@state.gov

2. Central Authority:

Ministerio del Poder Popular Para Relaciones Exteriores

(Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs)

Contact details:

Address: Ministerio del Poder Popular para Relaciones Exteriores

Dirección del Servicio Consular Extranjero

Oficina de Relaciones Consulares

(Ministry of People’s Power of Foreign Affairs

Directorate of the Foreign Consular Service

Office of Consular Affairs)

Edificio Anexo a la Torre MRE, piso 1

Avenida Urdaneta – Esquina Carmelitas a Puente LLaguno

Caracas 1010

Venezuela

Telephone: +58 (0) 212-8064449/8020000

Ext. 6701-6704-6707-6708-6709- 6713.

Fax:  

E-mail: relaciones.consulares@mppre.gob.ve

exhortos.rogatorias@mppre.gob.ve

General website: http://www.mppre.gob.ve/Contact person:

Marco Antonio Magallanes Grillet

Director General de la Oficina de Relaciones Consulares

Director- General of the Office of Consular Affairs

Telephone: +58 (212) 8064449 / 802-8000 Ext. 6701-6713

Email: marco.magallanes70@mppre.gob.ve

Eudys Javier Almeida Gaona

Director del Servicio Consular Extranjero

(Director of Foreign Consular Service)

Telephone: +58 (212) 8064449 / 802-8000 Ext. 6713

E-mail: eudys.almeida97@mppre.gob.ve

3. Art. 10(a):

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela does not agree to the transmission of documents through postal channels.

 Art. 15(2):

4. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela declares that “Venezuelan judges shall be empowered to decide when the conditions contained in sections (a), (b) and (c) of this Article are fulfilled, even though they have not received any communications evidencing either the notice or transfer or delivery of the document.

5. The Article 188(2) CPC states the following: “ The service abroad will be addressed by diplomatic or consular via and the others by the ordinary channel, without legalization.”

6. Art. 16(3):

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela declares that the request allowed by the third paragraph of this Article shall not be admissible if it is made after the expiration of the period specified in Venezuelan law.

7. Art. 8(2):

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela opposes the exercise of the authority established in the first paragraph of this Article within its territory in relation to other persons who are not nationals of the State of origin. With respect to the second paragraph, Venezuela did not make any declaration or reservation.

 

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