When a foreign client is sued in a U.S. court, the first question we typically address is the issue of how the complaint was served. It is not uncommon for some plaintiff’s lawyers to attempt service of process over a foreign entity by mailing the complaint to the company’s headquarters. If the entity that you are representing resides in a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention, then the issue may be well settled. However, in those instances where you are defending an entity that resides in a country that is not a signatory, then the issue can become more difficult to resolve.
We recently dealt with this issue on behalf of an Indonesian manufacturer that had received a copy of the summons and complaint through international mail. Mail is not a method of service prescribed by Indonesian law, nor was it a method directed by an Indonesian authority in response to a letter rogatory. In fact, mail service is arguably prohibited by Indonesian law. Therefore, at first blush, mail service on our client had to be improper.