Legal Translation and Non-Personal Service of Process in the Age of Twitter

Since personal service of process is often not a possibility in international litigation, the law has evolved to permit – in specific circumstances – for service to be carried out via mail, telex, facsimile and even email. But what about service through text messaging, Twitter, or Facebook? And how does this effect a foreign language speaker who cannot understand the meaning of the electronic service? Furthermore, how does this play into service between two foreign jurisdictions?

In the case Rio Properties, Inc. v. Rio International Interlink, the court touched on the underlying issue of due process involved in the debate about electronic service. In this case, a U.S.-based casino served a Costa Rica based company via email. According to the Court’s interpretation of Rule 4(f)(3), there are several ways to serve process on an international defendant and that so long as one can demonstrate a necessity to use electronic service, the service will be valid.

However, when serving a foreign company, it is good practice to include a foreign language translation of the notice. If the service is done electronically, the electronic message should include both an English version (for purposes of satisfying requirements of U.S. courts) and a foreign language translation. This will ensure the communication is understood and thus bolster one’s argument that the service of notice was compliant with the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Up Next: On-Site Legal Language Services, and Foreign Extradition when Conviction is In Absentia

All Language Alliance

by Legal Translator & Court Interpreter

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