Service of judicial and extrajudicial documents

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Service of judicial and extrajudicial documents

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Service of judicial and extrajudicial documents


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

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Service of judicial and extrajudicial documents

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (service of documents), and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000.


This Regulation applies to civil or commercial matters where it is necessary to transmit judicial or extrajudicial documents for service from one Member State to another. Revenue, customs, administrative affairs or cases of state liability for actions or omissions in the exercise of state authority are not concerned, nor does it apply where the address of the person to be served is unknown.

Further improving the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents

This Regulation aims to improve the application of Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 (see Report COM(2004) 603). The main modifications concern the introduction of:

  • a rule stipulating that the receiving agency shall take all necessary steps to serve the document as soon as possible, and in any event within one month of receipt;
  • a new standard form to inform the addressee of their right to refuse to accept the document to be served at the time of service or by returning the document to the receiving agency within a week;
  • a rule stipulating that costs occasioned by recourse to a judicial officer or to a person competent under the law of the Member State addressed shall correspond to a single fixed fee laid down by that Member State in advance, respecting the principles of proportionality and nondiscrimination;
  • uniform conditions for service by postal services (registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or equivalent).

Agencies within the Member States ensure transmission

Agencies designated by the Member States are responsible for transmitting and receiving documents. The Member States must provide the Commission with their names and addresses, the geographical areas to which they apply, and their accepted languages and means of receipt of documents. Each Member State also has a central body for supplying information to the agencies, resolving any difficulties that may arise and forwarding requests for service by the transmitting agency to the relevant receiving agency in exceptional circumstances. A federal state, one where there are several legal systems or which has autonomous territorial units may name more than one such agency or central body. The designation is valid five years and maybe be renewed at five-year intervals.

Speeding up the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents

It is the applicant who forwards documents to the transmitting agency who bears any costs of translation prior to transmitting the document. The transmitting agency has to advise the applicant that, in case the document is not in a language which the addressee understands or in the official language of the Member State where service is to be effected, the latter can refuse to accept the document.

Documents must be transmitted directly and as soon as possible between the agencies by any appropriate means of transmission, as long as they are legible and faithful to the original. A request using the standard form as annexed to the Regulation must be attached in one of the accepted languages that the Member States indicate. The documents are exempt from legalisation or any equivalent formality. A receipt must be sent within seven days by the receiving agency. The latter has to contact the transmitting agency as soon as possible in case of missing information.

Serving documents according to the law of the receiving Member States within one month

The receiving agency should either serve the document itself or have it served within one month. If this is not possible, the receiving agency must inform the transmitting agency and continue to try to serve the document. Serving is done according to the law of the receiving Member State, or by a particular method if this is requested by the transmitting agency and it conforms to the national law. When service has been carried out, a certificate of completion of the formalities involved must be completed in a language accepted by the Member State of origin and sent to the transmitting agency.

The date of service will be the date on which the document is served, according to the law of the Member State addressed, except where it must be addressed within a particular period according to the law of that State. The service must not incur costs or taxes in the Member State addressed, except if there has been a particular method of service or recourse to a judicial officer there. In that case, it is up to the applicant to bear the costs. The Member States have to fix a single fee in advance, and communicate it to the Commission.

Documents may also be served directly by using registered post with a receipt or via the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the Member State addressed, if this is permitted by the Member State in question. In exceptional circumstances, documents may be forwarded to agencies of another Member State via consular or diplomatic channels.

Informing the addressee about the right to refuse the document to be served

The receiving agency informs the addressee of their right to refuse the document, if it is not written in a language that he or she understands nor in the official language of the Member State where service takes place. The refusal shall take place at the time of service or by returning the document to the receiving agency within a week.

If the document is a writ of summons or equivalent and the defendant does not appear, a judgment may not be pronounced until it is sure that the document was served according to the Member State’s domestic law, it was delivered and the defendant had sufficient time to submit a defence. However, judgment may be delivered if the document was transmitted by one of the methods laid down in the Regulation, and if more than six months have elapsed and no certificate of any kind has been obtained in spite of every reasonable effort by the competent authorities of the Member State addressed. If the defendant did not know about the document in time to appear, it is still possible to apply for relief within a reasonable time after finding out about the judgment.

The Commission should provide and regularly update a manual containing the information provided by the Member States. By 2011 and every 5 years subsequently, it shall further present a report on the application of this Regulation, focusing on the agencies’ effectiveness.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 [adoption: codecision COD/2005/0126]

applies from 13.11.2008, except Article 23, from 13.8.2008

OJ L 324 of 10.12.2007

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