Service of Process in Mexico: NOT by Certified Mail.

31 05 2011
No Mail

Service of process: NOT by mail in MX

Or as Associate Professor Charles B. Campbell (Faulkner University) says—writes—: doing it No Sirve (literally, “doesn’t work”).

One common daunting legal task for the U.S. practitioner is to have to serve process of a lawsuit in Mexico. The natural temptation for the American lawyer is to try to accomplish it by using certified mail or courier. But that is NOT a valid method for Mexican law purposes.

Mexico and the United States are signatories to the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (commonly referred as the Hague Service Convention). This international treaty “allows service of judicial documents from one signatory state to another without use of consular and diplomatic channels,” in words of Wikipedia, but rather through the Central Authority designated by each signatory for that purpose.

The Hague Service Convention does provide for alternative methods for service of legal documents, but Mexico objected to them. Professor Campbell pointed out a mistranslation of the English courtesy copy of Mexico’s objection as the source of confusion for U.S. litigators in his January of 2010 paper “No Sirve: The Invalidity of Service of Process Abroad by Mail or Private Process Server on Parties in Mexico Under the Hague Service Convention.”

This year, Mexico changed  the language of his declaration to make its opposition to the alternative methods clearer. Professor Campbell reported it in a new article entitled “No Sirve Continued: Mexico Modifies Its Declarations to the Hague Service Convention.”

I personally always understood Mexico’s original objection as unequivocally rejecting the usage of alternate methods, but I of course read the Convention text in Spanish-my first language, so the fact actually strengths Professor Campbell’s point.

How to accomplish service of process then, if not by certified mail? Via Mexico’sSecretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The Secretary of State has a link with information on the issue.

And practitioners: if your client was served with process in Mexico not via the central authority, oppose it.

Great articles by professor Campbell. Gracias, Maestro.