The past few years have seen many accessions to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, sponsored by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Columbia, Montenegro, Armenia have all acceded to the convention this year, and Moldova will next year. In 2011, Malta, Morocco, and Serbia acceded. In 2010 Australia and Belize acceded, and in 2010, and in 2009 another three – Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia acceded, for a total of twelve new countries.
The convention has been in force in most major trading nations and in most highly populated nations for several years, but this surge in accessions gives the Convention much needed momentum. Too many important and populous nations have yet to accede, including Indonesia, Bangladesh and Singapore, and even Hague Conference members Brazil, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Among nations in the Middle East, a remarkable number have yet to accede, including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, and – despite the importance of Dubai as an international centre -- the United Arab Emirates. The convention is in force in Israel, Egypt and Kuwait.
Service of originating process (e.g. statements of claim or notices of application) in non-Convention countries can be cumbersome. In some of these countries, personal service by a private process server is illegal. Instead, one must obtain letters rogatory. This is an instrument by which a Canadian court requests that the foreign country’s court permit service of the Canadian statement of claim. The instrument is transmitted via diplomatic channels. Service of the claim can take a year or longer. Even in countries where service by private process server is not illegal, service by letters rogatory is nonetheless advisable if one intends to enforce the judgment in that country.