16 November 2020
Philippines

Philippine SC issues guidelines on Hague Service Convention

The Philippines has acceded to the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (“Hague Service Convention”) on 4 March 2020, or almost 55 years since its conclusion. The Hague Service Convention entered into force in the Philippines on 1 October 2020.

With 78 current State Parties to the convention, the Hague Service Convention aims to streamline the procedure for the transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents across international borders. To implement the convention, the Philippine Supreme Court (“SC”) issued Administrative Order No. 251-2020, or the Guidelines on the Implementation in the Philippines of the Hague Service Convention (“Guidelines”).

The Guidelines nevertheless make it clear that it only applies to the transmission and service of judicial documents [1] in civil or commercial matters. In addition, the transmission should be between State Parties to the Hague Service Convention, and the address of the intended recipient in the receiving State Party is known. The request may be declined if it does not comply with any of these conditions, or when the compliance with the request would infringe on the receiving State Party’s sovereignty and security.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (“IBP”) is in charge of promulgating the guidelines on the service of the extrajudicial documents [2] in civil or commercial matters.

Procedure for inbound requests for service

For requests for service of judicial documents coming from other State Parties, the Philippine Central Authority designated to receive such requests is the Office of the Court Administrator (“OCA”), the administrative arm of the SC tasked with supervising the lower courts in the country.

The requests for inbound service shall comply with the following requirements:

  • documents sought to be served are judicial in nature;
  • the request conforms to the Model Form [3] of the Hague Service Convention;
  • documents sought to be served is attached to the request;
  • the request and its attachments are accomplished/translated in either of the two official working languages in the Philippines, English or Filipino;
  • the request and its attachments are filed in duplicate;
  • the address of the intended recipient is indicated with sufficient specificity; [4] and
  • the request must be accompanied by USD100.00 for the payment of costs of service for each recipient to be served.[5]

The inbound requests can be submitted using two modes of transmission: a) through electronic transmission via e-mail to PHCA-Service@judiciary.gov.ph; and b) through physical transmission via registered mail or courier services to the office of the OCA. [6]

If the request is sufficient in form, the OCA will forward the request to the court that has jurisdiction over the area where the intended recipient resides, if the request is made through physical transmission. Requests sent via electronic transmission will be forwarded to the official e-mail accounts of the relevant court.

After implementing the request, the judge in the court concerned shall accomplish the certificate based on the Model Form that would state whether the service is successful or not. The Guidelines prescribe that the certificate should be forwarded to the requesting State Party within 30 calendar days from receipt of the request.

Procedure for outbound requests for service

Meanwhile, requests for service of documents coming from Philippine courts are initiated through the motion of a party in a civil or commercial proceeding. After receiving the motion, the court will determine whether the extraterritorial service through the Hague Service Convention is necessary in accordance with the Philippine Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.

Acting as the Forwarding Authorities, the judge, in the case of lower courts, or the Justice or the Clerk of Court, in the case of collegiate courts, shall check the completeness of the documents and ensure compliance with the requirements of the Hague Service Convention and that of the Requested State. The court shall directly coordinate with the designated Central Authority of the Requested State for the transmission of the documents, furnishing the OCA with a copy of the request and updating it on the status of the request.

The Central Authority of the Requested State shall confirm whether the service was successful or not by accomplishing the certificate in conformity with the Model Form, which certificate shall form part of the records of the case.

Conclusion

The Philippines’ accession to the Hague Service Convention and the implementation of the Guidelines show the country’s commitment to reduce, if not eliminate, delays in the judicial system by providing litigants with other modes of service of documents abroad.

The modes of extraterritorial service under the Philippine Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, such as personal service, publication in a newspaper of general circulation or any other manner the court may deem sufficient, among others, can still be utilised by litigants. However, the benefit of using the Hague Service Convention is the accountability imposed on the government authorities designated to intervene in the service of the documents. These government authorities are expressly mandated to ensure the service of the documents is done in sufficient time, which will assist in the faster disposition of civil and commercial cases.

 


If you have any questions or require any additional information, please contact Felix Sy or Reeneth B. Santos of Insights Philippines Legal Advisors (a member of ZICO Law).

This alert is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.

 

[1] Judicial documents refer to orders, resolution, judgments, and other official documents issued by courts in relation to civil or commercial proceedings, as well as pleadings and other court submission by parties to such civil or commercial proceedings.

[2] Extrajudicial documents refer to any private or public document not directly connected with pending or terminated lawsuits before courts, e.g., demands for payment, notices to quit in connection with leaseholds and protests in connection with bills of exchange.

[3] The Model Forms annexed to the Hague Service Convention can be accessed in the website of the Hague Conference on Private International Law at https://www.hcch.net/en/publications-and-studies/details4/?pid=6560&dtid=65 .

[4] Post office boxes are not allowed.

[5] For multiple recipients residing in the same address, one fee shall be provided.

[6] Office of the Court Administrator, Supreme Court of the Philippines, Third Floor, Old Supreme Court Building, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila 1000, Philippines