Service of documents - Community law
A practical, safe and quick procedure for sending documents within the European Union
If you become involved in legal proceedings, you will have to send various documents to the other party to the dispute and receive others in return. To use the legal term, you will have to serve documents.
Not so long ago, if you wanted to send such documents to a Member State other than the one in which you are resident, you might well have come up against a number of problems, in particular the need to go through a chain of intermediaries. In 2000 the European Union adopted a Regulation laying down procedural rules to make it easier to send documents from one Member State to another. The Regulation applies between all Member States of the European Union including Denmark which has concluded a parallel agreement on Regulation 1348/2000 with the European Community. This agreement entered into force on 1st July 2007.
The main aims of the Regulation are:
- To avoid delays arising from the transmission of documents between successive intermediaries. To do so, it establishes more direct relations between the persons or authorities responsible for transmission ("transmitting agencies") and the "receiving agencies" in charge of serving documents in the Member State where the receiving party resides. Depending on the Member State, these "agencies" may be courts, bailiffs or other authorities.
- To enable procedural documents to be sent direct to the addressee by post. For security reasons, nearly all Member States require the use of registered letters with acknowledgement of receipt.
- To make life easier for the persons and authorities concerned by drawing up a standard form to be used and a manual listing the receiving agencies in each Member State.
- To ensure that the addressees of the documents receive them in the language of their country or a language they understand.
As of 13 November 2008, the Regulation is replaced by Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 which has been adopted on the 13 November 2007. The Regulation applies to Denmark under the above mentioned parallel agreement between the EC and Denmark.
The most important modifications with respect to Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 are:
- Introduction of a rule providing that the receiving agency shall take all necessary steps to effect the service of the document as soon as possible, and in any event within one month of receipt.
- Introduction of a new standard form to inform the addressee about his right to refuse to accept the document to be served at the time of service or by returning the document to the receiving agency within one week.
- Introduction of a rule providing that costs occasioned by recourse to a judicial officer or to a person competent under the law of the Member State addressed shall correspond to a single fixed fee laid down by that Member State in advance which respects the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination.
- Introduction of uniform conditions for service by postal services (registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or equivalent).
The adoption of the new Regulation follows the adoption of a Report on the Application of Council Regulation (EC) 1348/2000 on the Service in the Member States of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters. This report has been prepared in accordance with Article 24 of the Regulation.
It is based on information provided by a Study (PDF file 2MB), and by Member States and other interested parties on different occasions, in particular at a meeting of the European Judicial Network in Civil Matters in December 2002, at a public hearing in July 2003 and at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Service of Documents in April 2004.
The Report concludes that since its entry into force in 2001, the application of the Regulation has generally improved and expedited the transmission and the service of documents between Member States. Nevertheless, in the period of adaptation which is still ongoing, many persons involved in the application of the Regulation, in particular local bodies, still do not have sufficient knowledge about the Regulation. Furthermore, the application of certain provisions of the Regulation is not fully satisfactory. Adaptations of these provisions should be considered in order to further improve and facilitate the application of the Regulation.
See as well Commission Staff Working document (PDF file 135 KB)
- Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (service of documents), and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000
- Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 of 29 May 2000 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters
- Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee on the application of Council Regulation (EC) 1348/2000 on the service in the Member States of Judicial and Extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (COM/2004/0603 final)
Annexes to the Report (SEC/2004/1145) (PDF file 135 KB)
- Study (PDF file 2 MB) on the application of Council Regulation 1348/2000 on the service of judicial and extra judicial documents in civil or commercial matters
- Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark on the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters
- Judicial Atlas - Serving Documents
- Preparatory documents and archives (PDF file 33 KB)
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