Hague Convention and “Hague Service”

There are a large number of Hague Conventions, agreements and treaties on different issues ranging from diplomatic rights to the rights of combatants, which can lead to confusion.  In international technology law and litigation, the Hague Convention usually refers to either:

(a)The Hague Convention of November 15, 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Document in Civil or Commercial Matters is the key international agreement for bringing suit against foreign parties, i.e., for a U.S. company or party to sue a company outside the U.S. or an EU company or party to sue a non-EU company or party. It provides the service mechanism for papers initiating a lawsuit and should be followed in order to obtain an enforceable award in the defendant’s jurisdiction.

Hague convention service is usually effectuated through central authorities in each state, e.g., the foreign service of each country relays the documents, sometimes via justice ministries. Accomplishing Hague service may take several months. Some countries under the Hague convention permit mail service – when initiating a suit against a non-domestic defendant, whether that defendant’s jurisdiction has acceded to the Hague convention and the terms of service it has agreed to should always be reviewed, as the position of different countries can vary considerably.

(b) The Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence in Civil or Commercial Matters which is a general agreement for the taking of evidence in civil cases in countries other than the country in which the case is pending, usually under the authority and direction of the local courts.

The Hague Agreement relates to the legal protection and deposit of industrial designs, i.e., for registered designs and design patents.