The Hague Convention in respect of process serve is correctly known as the Convention on The Service Abroad Of Judicial And Extrajudicial Documents In Civil Or Commercial Matters. China is a party to the Convention and both Hong Kong and Macau are participating territories under China. Taiwan, however, is not a party.
The Service Convention provides for the channels of transmission to be used when a judicial or extrajudicial document is to be transmitted from one State party to the Convention to another State party for service in the latter. [This means that any service conducted under the HC is automatically international in nature]. The Convention deals primarily with the transmission of documents; it does not address or comprise substantive rules relating to the actual service of process.
Service conducted under the Service Convention typically takes about two months. It can take a lot longer in China.
For the Convention to be applicable, the following requirements must be met:
- a document is to be transmitted from one State party to the Convention to another State party for service in the latter (the law of the forum State determines whether or not a document has to be transmitted abroad for service in the other State – the Convention is non-mandatory);
- an address for the person to be served is known;
- the document to be served is a judicial or extrajudicial document, and
- the document to be served relates to a civil or commercial matter.
If all these requirements are met, the transmission channels provided for under the Convention must be applied.
The Central Authority of the requested State will execute the request for service or cause it to be executed either:
- by informal delivery to the addressee who accepts it voluntarily, or
- by a method provided for under the law of the requested State, or
- by a particular method requested by the applicant, unless it is incompatible with the law of the requested State.
Under Article 5(3), the Central Authority of the requested State may request a translation of the documents to be served if they are to be served by a method prescribed by the internal law of the requested State for the service of documents in domestic actions upon persons who are within its territory or if service by a particular method is requested by the applicant.
Hong Kong’s Central Authority is the Judiciary.