Is Email Service Allowed Under the Hague Service Convention?

Hague Service Convention
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Imagine a world where no one knew anybody. Everybody lived in their own homes and went about their life on their own. You can’t imagine it, can you? Because it is impossible for humans to live an isolated life. Sure, they can live on their own but they cannot get by a day without interacting with someone. Even if someone moves to a new place where they have no friends or family, they will end up interacting with people, if only to order food or to ask for the bill when buying groceries. It is impossible for us to have lived on this planet for thousands of years and not gotten close to each other.

Some people might tell you that they don’t like people and go to great lengths to avoid them. But even when that is true, we are interacting with people in some ways. The clothes we wear are made by humans. We cannot get food if our fellow human beings decide to not grow it one day. Living becomes a lot better and easier with people in it. We aren’t just the only ones who have realized the benefits of cooperating with each other. Animals travel and hunt in groups too because they know they are stronger together.

Countries follow the same thinking. If each country had decided to be on its own and never enter into any treaty with another state for mutual benefit, the world would have ended a long time. Thankfully, the human race realized that mutual benefit is not a bad thing. In fact, we should be happy to help our fellow brethren. It is true that the world still has to learn a lot about unity but we have come a long way from the World Wars. There are a lot of treaties and agreements signed by multiple countries that help all the participants equally.

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Hague Service Convention and Its Benefits:

The Hague has always been a place that brought together countries to discuss matters of importance and sign treaties that define an aspect of international law. Sometimes the treaties were quite simple in nature. Although the World Wars put a hold on the trend of gathering in the Hague to decide about important matters, things started getting back to normal in the late 20th century. A few conventions were held at the Hague in different years that defined processes that helped signatories in one way or another.

email service

One of the conventions held in the Hague in the last century was the Hague Service Convention. It was adopted on 15th November, 1965. In civil and commercial matters, the convention provides the litigants a reliable method of serving documents to people or parties living or operating in a foreign country. Documents cannot be served in criminal cases under the Hague convention. It is also worth noting that if the address of the recipient is unknown, they cannot be served under the rules of the convention.

Over the years, the convention has helped countries in countless cases. In states where the convention doesn’t apply, a process known as letter rogatory is used. But the latter is slower and costs more because a foreign attorney has to be hired for the process.

Is Email Service Allowed Under the Hague Service Convention?

Whenever a convention is drafted, some room is left for each country’s individual laws. This is why there has always been some confusion regarding the right means of serving under the Hague convention. Some specialists think that serving in person is the only right way under law. But this is where each country’s law come into play. If service by mail is prohibited in a country, the convention rules don’t apply there. However, in countries such as France and the Netherlands, service by mail is acceptable.

With the changing times, everyone wants there to be change in the judicial system too. People want the rules of the convention to change and be more in accordance with the modern trends. In 1965, the world didn’t have emails and that’s why mail seemed a better option. But even that caused controversy in some parts of the US. However, email is the fastest method of reaching out to people in today’s world and that has made people wonder if it is an acceptable method of serving under the Hague Service Convention.

Some people think that email service should be allowed under the convention. They argue that modern times require us to upgrade the rules of old treaties and agreements. Although the argument can be made for introducing modern ideas in many fields, when it comes to serving documents, older methods are still better. Since the Hague Convention clearly states that if the address is unknown of the person who is to be served, the rules of the convention will not apply to them, it is a good argument that email goes against that rule.

Another issue is that sending email to a person may or may not mean that they will actually see the document. Every day a lot of emails end up in the spam folder that none of us ever bother to check. Even the mails we get in our inbox often include plenty of promotions and deals that everyone ignores. This is why email is not a suitable and safe way of serving document to a person and it is not in accordance with the rules of the Hague Service Convention.

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