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Service of documents in civil or commercial matters
This Regulation is designed to improve and expedite the transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters for service between the Member States.
Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 of 29 May 2000 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters.
1. This Regulation applies in civil and commercial matters when a judicial or extrajudicial document must be transmitted from one Member State of the European Union to another for service. It does not apply when the address of the recipient of the document is unknown.
Expediting the transmission of judicial or extrajudicial documents
2. To speed up the transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents, more direct channels are established between the persons or authorities responsible for transmitting the documents and those in charge of serving them. To this end, each Member State must designate "transmitting agencies" and "receiving agencies", responsible respectively for the transmission and receipt of the documents in question. Moreover, each Member State must designate a central agency responsible inter alia for supplying information and resolving problems connected with the transmission of documents. A federal State, a State in which several legal systems apply or a State with autonomous territorial units is free to designate more than one central agency.
3. All appropriate means of transmission are permitted, provided the content is legible. To facilitate exchanges, documents must be accompanied by a standard form as shown in the annex to the Regulation. The Regulation also provides for transmission through consular or diplomatic channels.
4. The country to which the document is addressed must receive the form in the language decided upon in advance. Any translation costs are borne by the applicant. The addressee may refuse to accept the document if it is drawn up in a language other than the official language of the Member State concerned or a language that he or she understands.
5. The receiving agency must send an acknowledgment of receipt to the transmitting agency within seven days and, if necessary, should contact the transmitting agency in connection with any missing information and/or documents. If the mode of transmission is inappropriate (outside the scope of the Regulation or not in the specified form), the documents are to be returned.
6. Documents must be served in accordance with the legislation of the Member State addressed or in the way requested by the transmitting agency if that is possible.
In the event of the receiving agency being unable to effect service within one month, it must inform the transmitting agency accordingly, using a standard form. Once the formalities concerning service of a document have been completed, the transmitting agency receives a certificate of completion.
7. When a document initiating proceedings or an equivalent document has had to be served and the defendant does not appear in court, the judge will not return any decision until it has been determined that:
- the document was served in accordance with the national law of the receiving Member State;
- or that the document was served by another method provided for by this Regulation.
In any event, the document must be served in good time for the defendant to be able to defend him or herself.
8. The costs associated with serving legal documents originating in another Member State may not result in the payment or reimbursement of taxes or expenses for the services of the receiving Member State.
Application of the Regulation
9. The Commission is required to draw up and update a manual containing information including the agencies' addresses and the languages that may be used for the transmission of documents, together with a glossary in the official languages of the European Union. The manual is updated on a regular basis.
10. To this end, the Commission is assisted by an advisory committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the representative of the Commission.
11. The Regulation takes precedence over the international conventions concluded by the Member States (notably the 1965 Hague Convention).
12. The Regulation requires the Commission to present a report on its application to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee three years after its entry into force, and every five years thereafter.
13. The provisions of Title IV of the EC Treaty (visas, asylum, immigration and other policies related to free movement of persons) are not applicable to Ireland, the United Kingdom or Denmark. However, Ireland and the United Kingdom have decided to opt into the Regulation. Moreover, the Commission has negotiated an agreement [PDF ] between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark that extends the provisions of the Regulation to Denmark. This agreement was signed on 19 October 2005 and will enter into force on 1 July 2007 [Official Journal L 94 of 4 April 2007].
14. On 26 May 1997, on the basis of the Treaty on European Union (EU), the Council adopted the Convention on the service in the Member States of the European Union of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters. It also recommended that the Member States adopt the Convention in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The Convention has not entered into force.
15. The Treaty of Amsterdam, signed on 2 October 1997, altered the legal basis for judicial cooperation in civil matters, which is now incorporated in the EC Treaty (Article 65) and is subject to different legal instruments and procedures. The Commission therefore proposed that the Convention be transposed into a Community instrument with a view to ensuring that it was speedily implemented and that practical difficulties encountered by citizens in their daily life were resolved.
16. The substance of the Convention has been taken over by and incorporated in this Regulation. Like the 1997 Convention, the Regulation is based on the Hague Convention of 1965, but with some improvements.
|Act||Entry into force and expiry date||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Regulation 1348/2000/EC||31.05.2001||-||OJ L 160 of 30.06.2000|
The Freedom, Security and Justice web site of the JFS Directorate-General of the European Commission:
- Judicial cooperation between Member States in civil and commercial matters is a European Community policy linked related to the free circulation of people.