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Last update: 04-11-2009
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Service of documents - General Information

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This page is now obsolete. The update is currently being prepared and will be available in the European e-Justice Portal.

Sending a judicial document amounts to more than just posting a letter.

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 first of these documents is normally the summons, by which the other party is notified that proceedings have begun.

But, as the proceedings unfold, there may well be others such as appeals, statements of defence, injunctions, etc. At the end of proceedings, the court's decision will be served on the parties.

A number of extrajudicial documents, such as notarised acts, may also have to be transmitted.

All the Member States have rules designed to guarantee that documents are indeed delivered to the parties, by laying down certain formalities for service.

In some countries the court itself assumes the task of sending documents. In others you will have to take the initiative yourself.

The methods of conveying such documents may also vary from one Member State to another, for example they may have to be delivered by hand or you may be allowed to send them by post.

The cost of these formalities also varies. In some cases it may be covered by the legal aid available for persons who do not have enough funds to pay for the cost of proceedings themselves.

Click on the flag of each Member State and you will find information you need on the systems of serving documents in that country.

If you have to send documents to a Member State other than the one in which you are resident, it is worth knowing that the relevant procedures are laid down in a European Regulation adopted in 2000. This could save you time. To find out more, click on the "Community law" icon.

There is also an international convention, concluded in 1965, governing relations between Member States of the European Union and non-EU countries that are party to the convention. To find out more, click on the "International law" icon.


Last update: 04-11-2009

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