Translated Documents and Hague Service Convention Requirements

Part I of this Note discusses translation requirement permitted under the Hague Convention, the provisions of the Convention governing service abroad, and when translation requirements apply to service abroad. Part II addresses complications arising from U.S. courts’ strict interpretation of the requirements and their failure to consult the laws of the addressee state. Part III suggests practical methods which courts and attorneys can implement to avoid these complications. In general, both U.S. courts and attorneys must defer to foreign legal standards when applying Article 5. Because courts sometimes fail to consult foreign law, they have read national translation requirements more narrowly than necessary under the Convention, essentially creating standards unrelated the requirements of the receiving state. Attorneys and courts should not read Article 5 as a simple and strict translation requirement. Rather, they should view it as a more complex instrument which recognizes both the international community’s need for uniform service procedures, and each signatory State’s need to comply with its internal laws.