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Ensuring Valid Service of Process in Argentina: Exploring the Hague Convention

By June 3, 2024No Comments

Service of Process

“The general rule in Florida is that a defendant must be personally served.” Societe Hellin, S.A. v. Valley Commercial Capital, LLC, 254 So. 3d 1018, 1020 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018). “Proper service of process is indispensable for the court to obtain personal jurisdiction over a defendant.” Modway, Inc. v. OJ Commerce, LLC, 331 So. 3d 723, 726 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021). “A defendant may question the trial court’s jurisdiction over the defendant due to insufficient service of process via a motion to quash.” Empire Beauty Salon v. Commercial Loan Sols. IV, LLC, 159 So. 3d 136, 138 n.3 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014). “Absent strict compliance with the statutes governing service of process, the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant.” Anthony v. Gary J. Rotella & Associates, P.A., 906 So. 2d 1205, 1207 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).

Under Florida law, service of process may be effectuated in a foreign country upon a party as provided by “any internationally agreed-upon means of service reasonably calculated to give actual notice of the proceedings, such as those authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters.” § 48.197(1)(a), Fla. Stat.

The Hague Convention is “mandatory in all cases to which it applies,” and “pre-empts inconsistent methods of service prescribed by state law.” Ingenieria y Exportacion de Tecnologia S.L. v. Freytech, Inc., 210 So. 3d 211, 213 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016).

The Hague Convention applies in Argentina since “Argentina and the United States are signatories to the Hague Service Convention.” Fusilamp, LLC v. Littelfuse, Inc., 2010 WL 11504719, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 1, 2010). “The primary means by which service is accomplished under the Hague Service Convention is through a receiving country’s ‘central authority’ designated to receive requests for service of documents from other countries.” In re Mak Petroleum, Inc., 424 B.R. 912, 917 (Bankr. M.D. Fla. 2010). In accordance with the Hague Convention, Argentina has designated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship as the Central Authority to receive requests for service.[1]

“For a method of service to comply with the [Hague] Convention, the method must be either (1) affirmatively authorized, or (2) not prohibited under the circumstances.” Duong v. DDG BIM Services LLC, 2023 WL 7209982, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 2, 2023). The main method of service “affirmatively authorized” under the Hague Convention is through a “central authority.”

Under Article 10(c) of the Hague Convention, “[p]rovided the State of destination does not object, the present Convention shall not interfere with . . . the freedom of any person interested in a judicial proceeding to effect service of judicial documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination.” Hague Convention art. 10(c), Nov. 15, 1965, T.I.A.S. No. 6638.

In the case of Argentina, “[w]hen it became a signatory, [it] made a reservation to Article 10 of the Convention, . . . stating: ‘The ARGENTINE REPUBLIC opposes to the use of methods of transmission pursuant to Article 10.’” Fusilamp, 2010 WL 11504719, at *2. It is therefore irrelevant whether an individual can be served in the manner described under the “Argentine Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure” when said service is not permitted under the Hague Convention. As cited above, “the Hague Convention pre-empts inconsistent methods of service prescribed by state law in all cases to which it applies.” Puigbo v. Medex Trading, LLC, 209 So. 3d 598, 601 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014).

It is well settled “Florida courts may accept any particular method of service, so long as it does not contradict any self-executing international agreement.” Asperbras Tecnologia Indus. v. Good Hope Dev., LLC, 213 So. 3d 1061, 1064 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) (emphasis added). See Esposito v. TipRanks, Ltd., 2024 WL 68528, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 4, 2024) (“As Plaintiff served Defendant in a manner that Israel has explicitly rejected, service of process was contrary to the Hague Convention.”).

For more assistance on service of process in Argentina or any other country, contact one of our experienced litigation attorneys at 305-570-2208. You can also email our lead attorney Eduardo directly at eduardo@ayalalawpa.com 

We at Ayala Law PA are passionate about helping those in legal need, so please don’t hesitate to schedule a case evaluation with us online here. 

[The opinions in this blog are not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with an attorney about the particulars of your case].

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