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Service of documents in civil or commercial matters

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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.

ACT

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.

SUMMARY

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].

Background

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.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force and expiry dateDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation 1348/2000/EC31.05.2001-OJ L 160 of 30.06.2000

RELATED ACTS


Proposal of 11 July 2005 for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending 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 [COM(2005) 305 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The proposal is designed to improve and expedite the service of documents, to simplify application of some of the provisions of the Regulation and to reinforce legal certainty for the claimant and for the addressee.
The main amendments proposed involve the introduction of:

  • a provision requiring the receiving agency to proceed with serving the document within one month of receipt;
  • a new form designed to inform the addressee that he has the right to refuse to accept a given document within one week of its being served;
  • a provision that the costs occasioned by the employment of a judicial officer or a person competent under the law of the Member State addressed must correspond to a fixed fee laid down by the Member State in advance which respects the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination;
  • uniform rules for the service of judicial documents by the postal services (registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt or equivalent).

Codecision procedure (COD/2005/0126)

Amended by:

Amended proposal of 1 December 2006 for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters ("Service of documents") [COM(2006) 751 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

This amended proposal recommends adapting the original Commission proposal to the general agreement of the Council and to the opinion of the European Parliament in a codified version.

The Council reached a general agreement on the text of the Regulation at its meeting on 1 June 2006 and suggested that a coordinated version of the text be presented. At its plenary session on 4 July 2006, the European Parliament adopted an opinion approving the Commission proposal subject to a number of amendments. The latter correspond to the text previously approved by the Council.

Commission Decision 2001/781/EC of 25 September 2001 adopting a manual of receiving agencies and a glossary of documents that may be served under Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters [Official Journal L 298 of 15.11.2001].
This decision was amended in part by Commission Decision 2002/350/EC of 3 April 2002 [Official Journal L 125 of 13.05.2002].

The Decision has two annexes:

  • a manual containing full details of receiving agencies (competent to receive judicial and extrajudicial documents), as referred to in Article 2 of Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000;
  • a glossary of documents which may be served, as referred to in Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000.

Reports

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee on the application of Council Regulation (EC) 1348/2000 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters [COM(2004) 603 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
In this report the Commission analyses the application of the Regulation on the basis of the information provided and the results of a study prepared by a contractor covering 14 Member States.

Information

Information communicated by the Member States under Article 23 of 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. [Official Journal C 151 of 22.05.2001].
First update of the information communicated by Member States pursuant to Article 23 of 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 [Official Journal C 202 of 18.07.2001].

The manual and glossary can be found on the web site of the European Judicial Atlas in Civil Matters of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security.
The Commission ensures the regular updating of the manual based on modifications communicated by Member States.

Last updated: 05.04.2007

See also

See also:

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.
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