Slovakia: Hague Service Convention

Service of process is the procedure by which a party to a lawsuit gives appropriate notice of initial legal action to another party, for example a defendant. This is true for some jurisdictions but does not work in Slovakia. In Slovakia, notice of initial legal action, e.g. the claim itself, must be delivered by the court. We have prepared a short summary on process service in Slovakia or the Slovak process server.

When starting a lawsuit where the claimant is from a jurisdiction that uses service of process against a defendant in Slovakia, service of process must be executed in accordance with international agreements. In this case it is the multilateral treaty titled the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, more commonly called the Hague Service Convention.

When using process service in Slovakia contact the Slovak Authority – the Slovak Ministry of Justice. They have a special department that deals with Slovak process server requests. A translation into Slovak is required, unless it can be concluded that the addressee understands the language of the document. The Slovak Ministry of Justice will take over the documents and forward them to the local court that will manage service locally. This will be the local court in the district of the addressee. It is up to the local judge or court clerk to organize service of documents on the addressee. Usually, they deliver via mail. Based on our experience, the local court can also deliver electronically to the addressee. Electronic delivery will be performed especially in cases where the addressee is a company with an obligatory electronic mailbox. After service of documents, the local court issues a certificate of service of the given documents on the addressee. It is up to the local court to inform the applicant that requested service and send the applicant the certificate of service.

The whole process is time consuming. Documents linger some time at the Central Authority. Then again at the local court. Document delivery from the local court to the addressee takes at least three weeks. That also applies in the case of electronic delivery, since according to Slovak law there are certain time periods for taking-over court deliveries. It is not unusual if the applicant that requests service receives no answer after six months.

Nevertheless, there are some tips on how to make the Slovak process server faster and smoother. First, when requesting process service in Slovakia always put yourself as the applicant. In case you need a local lawyer to check on the status of the Slovak process server the local lawyer can present itself as the representative of the applicant. Second, the people managing the process service in Slovakia on behalf of the ministry and the courts can be contacted and asked about the status of process service. The local lawyer can also help in case of trouble. Based on our experience, when a certificate of service issued by the local court is not delivered to the applicant, the local representative can arrange a duplicate of the certificate of service. This can be of immense help when fast Slovak process service is required.

The main reason for using process service in Slovakia in accordance with the Hague Service Convention is the final stage of a lawsuit – the enforcement process. If the Slovak defendant does not comply with a foreign judgment the claimant can start enforcement procedure in Slovakia. In the process of recognition of a foreign judgement in Slovakia and then in the enforcement procedure, the party that has to pay can request scrutiny of the process server. This means that correct process service in Slovakia according to the Hague Service Convention is essential.

If you have any questions on process service in Slovakia, contact us.

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