UNDERSTANDING ALTERNATE METHODS OF INTERNATIONAL PROCESS SERVICE

By: Akanksha A. Panicker

Service of process abroad always means a menu of choices, each of which comes with trade-offs of costs, certainty, and punctuality.   No universal method of service can be achieved in these cases, and research must be done to determine the most efficacious method of service in this particular case. 

In this regard, issues of timing almost always come up in terms of service of process abroad.  Even in domestic cases, timing is the main facet of litigation strategy. Since service of process abroad takes longer than service in the state, the time taken to serve the documents turns determinative in a foreign jurisdiction, particularly where the statute of limitations may expire. 

Even if the statute of limitations isn’t an issue, the speed of the method of service is paramount. Often, process service is the fastest means of executing service, if permitted. This is followed by service through the Hague Service Convention Central Authority and mail service (questionable since this might be more unpredictable as some countries do not permit service by mail, and even if they do, require a return receipt.) Letters rogatory take the longest time and is generally considered to be the slowest method of service.