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Serving a non-US corporation in the US—try the general manager approach

  • In Uncategorized
  • 5 August 2015
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When serving a non-US corporation, the Hague Convention typically applies because such service usually occurs on foreign soil. However, the Hague Convention applies only “[i]f the internal law of the forum state [i.e. California] defines the applicable method of serving process as requiring the transmittal of documents abroad.” Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk, 108 S.Ct. 2104 (1988). Similarly, California law only requires service of process to comport with the terms of the Hague Convention if process is served “outside the United States.” Khachatryan v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., 578 F.Supp.2d 1224, 1228 (C.D. Cal. 2008) (citing Cal. C.C.P. § 413.10(c)).

The California Code of Civil Procedure provides that process may be served on a corporation “by delivering a copy of the summons and the complaint . . . [t]o . . . a general manager, or person authorized by the corporation to receive service of process.” Cal. C.C.P. § 416.10(b).

A “general manager” under the California statute has been interpreted to “include[ ] any agent of the corporation ‘of sufficient character and rank to make it reasonably certain that the defendant will be apprised of the service made.’” Khachatryan, 578 F.Supp.2d at 1226 (quoting Gibble v. Car-Lene Research, Inc. (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 295).

To obviate difficulties associated with service on foreign soil, try service on the non-US company’s US general manager instead. Bailey & Partners recently employed this tactic successfully on a non-US aircraft manufacturer by serving its sole US “Representative.”

Written by F. Phillip Peche, attorney @ Bailey & Partners