Proskauer Rose International Practice Guide Proskauer Rose LLP |
      Proskauer on International Litigation and Arbitration:
       Managing, Resolving, and Avoiding Cross-Border Business or Regulatory Disputes
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  1. A plaintiff brings a lawsuit by serving the defendant with legal process – in the United States, with a summons and complaint or its equivalent. Proper service of process is critical to establish jurisdiction over the defendant, to compel it to appear in and be bound by the proceedings.
  2. In domestic U.S. federal-court cases, matters of service are governed by Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. But additional laws and treaties govern service of process when the defendant is outside the U.S. See generally 4B C. Wright & A. Miller, FEDERAL PRACTICE & PROCEDURE: CIVIL 3D §§ 1133-1136 (2007). These provisions include:
    1. The Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, entered into force Feb. 10, 1969 (20 U.S.T. 361, T.I.A.S. 6638; 28 U.S.C.A. (App. following Fed. R. Civ. P. 4); 16 I.L.M. 1339 (1977)), commonly known as the Hague Convention on International Service, is the most common vehicle for serving parties outside the U.S. (See Part II below.)
    2. The Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory, and its Additional Protocol (together, the “Inter-American Service Convention”), 1438 U.N.T.S. 287, 14 I.L.M. 339 (1975) provides for service of process among its signatories, which include the U.S. (See Part III below.)
    3. Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure contains provisions for making service on persons outside the United States. (See Part IV below.)
    4. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act contains special provisions at 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(1)-(4) for serving non-U.S. states and their instrumentalities. (See Part V below and Chapter 9 of this Guide.)

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