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Last update: 04-11-2009
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Service of documents - International law

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If you have to send a document outside the Union, there are international conventions which may save you time.

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.

The 1965 Hague Convention lays down a system for the transmission of documents via central authorities designated by each of the contracting parties.

Under this system, documents which you need to send abroad are forwarded by the competent authorities in your Member State of residence to the central authority designated by the State in question, which undertakes to serve them on the addressee. The central authority may not require any extra formalities such as legalisation.

The Convention does not preclude contracting States from providing for or accepting simpler systems, e.g. the possibility of sending documents to addressees direct by post.

The Hague Convention arrangements apply if you have to send documents to a State which is not a member of the European Union.

Austria is not party to the Convention.

However, for EU Member States, the Convention has been replaced by the Regulation of 29 May 2000 on the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil and commercial matters. As regards Denmark, the Regulation of 29 May 2000, and, subsequently, the Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 that replaced it, applies to Denmark on the basis of a parallel agreement between the EC and Denmark on the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters. This agreement entered into force on 1st July 2007.

Finally, various bilateral agreements exist between Member States and non- EU countries, which are referred to on the pages of the Member States concerned.

Reference documents

  • Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters
  • 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
  • Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark on the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters

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Last update: 04-11-2009

 
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