EM: Counsel@CritelliLaw.com
USA-NY: 212-388-9661 USA-IA: 515-243-3122

Iowa Courts MUST comply with Hague Service Convention

May 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Technology

For those of you who were wondering whether or not the service of process provisions Iowa Rules of Court trumped the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (better known as the “Hague Service Convention”), your answer has arrived: they do not.

The issue arose in a proceeding to reopen an estate, which required the petitioners to serve process upon the estate’s beneficiary who resided in Germany.  The district court ruled that because the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure did not define the applicable methods of serving process to include transmittal of documents abroad, the Hague Service Convention did not apply irregardless of the fact that both the United States and Germany had ratified the Hague Service Convention.

The Iowa Supreme Court disagreed.  In the Matter of the Estate of Clemens Graf Droste Zu Vishering, Deceased,  782 N.W.2d 141 (Iowa 2010) the Court reasoned that since the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution established that U.S. treaties are among  “the supreme Law of the Land,” the ratification of the Hague Service Convention by the United States preempted any inconsistent service methods allowed by state law.

The Court then remanded the matter back to the district court to determine if one of the requisite methods of service under the Convention was complied with:

  • Service through the Central Authority
  • Service through diplomatic or consular agents; or
  • Service by a method permitted by the internal law of Germany

The Court noted that due to Germany’s filed objection to Article 10 of the Convention, service in Germany is only permitted through the Central Authority. The documents also needed to be translated into German.

A copy of the decision can be downloaded here.


Comments are closed.