Friday, June 23, 2017

Sometimes a Guy Has to Go Hague

Water Splash, Inc. v. Melon, No. 16-254 (U.S. May 22, 2017)

This is from the big Supremes. But it’s a Hague service issue. So I just can’t resist the sheer CivPro excitement!

The Hague Convention on Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, addresses international service of process in civil cases. It provides for a bunch of different methods of service, many of which are cumbersome and require service through government intermediaries in the state of destination of service. But its Article 10(a) says that, if the state of destination doesn’t object, nothing in the Convention should interfere with “the freedom to send judicial documents, by postal channels, directly to persons abroad[.]” 

In this case, Canada—where the documents were to be served—does not so object. The question, however, is whether Article 10(a) encompasses service of process or just the mailing of some other kind of non-case initiating judicial documents. Resolving an inter-state and inter-circuit split, and after a grand tour of all the possible interpretive sources—text, structure, the interpretations of other courts, including international ones, drafting history, the position of the Executive Branch—the Court unanimously holds it applies to all service, including service of a summons and other case-initiating process.

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