Unknown address of the recipient will no longer be an obstacle to the application of the international service procedure in European Union (EU) countries as of July 2022. Document senders will be able to find out and verify the addresses of relevant recipients by contacting a competent authority of the country where the addressee resides, or by viewing detailed information available on the European e-Justice Portal.
The simplified procedure for service of documents is set out in the recast of Regulation (EU) 2020/1784 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters. This regulation also applies in Denmark, which has not acceded to some EU regulations.
The new regulation creates an information assistance mechanism that substantially expands the scope of application of the regulation, says Dovilė Satkauskienė, Head of the Chamber of Judicial Officers of Lithuania.
Up until now it was not possible to initiate the international procedure for the service of documents without knowing the address of the recipient. And inaccurate address of a recipient was one of the most common reasons of documents being returned back to the sender.
According to D. Satkauskienė, specific practical measures to overcome this obstacle will be applied as of July 1 of this year. The Chamber of Judicial Officers of Lithuania will provide assistance in determining the address of the person to whom documents must be served in our country. Data from the Population Register and the Register of Legal Entities will be used for this purpose. Similar assistance will be provided in other EU countries via designated authorities and official registers, and it will also be possible for the sender to find the recipient's address independently via the information available on the European e-Justice Portal.
Service of foreign documents by judicial officers and other competent officials helps participants in civil disputes to defend their interests abroad more effectively, when dealing with matters relating to debt recovery, contract enforcement, copyright protection, divorce, child support, etc. For example, a Lithuanian judicial officer was recently asked to serve divorce papers from an Indian applicant to a defendant living in Lithuania. Factually, their marriage lasted only a week, but was formally in force for 20 years. In order for the Indian applicant to obtain a divorce certificate, judicial documents had to be served on his spouse living in Lithuania.
It should however be noted that the procedures for the service of documents on people living outside the EU governed by the 1965 Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil Or Commercial Matters have not yet changed.
Judicial officers in Lithuania have been serving judicial and extrajudicial foreign documents on addressees since the beginning of 2016, after they took over the function of serving documents from district courts. The need to serve documents is growing every year. In 2021, the Chamber of Judicial Officers of Lithuania received 482 requests (405 in 2021) to serve judicial and extrajudicial documents in the territory of Lithuania. Traditionally, the majority of such requests come from Poland, Germany, France and Latvia, however this year there was an increase in the number of requests from Slovakia, Hungary and Portugal. About 70% of provided documents are successfully served to appropriate addressees - natural and legal persons in Lithuania. The remaining documents are not served due to the fact that the addressees refuse to accept documents which are not translated into Lithuanian, the addressees are not found at the addresses provided by the senders, and there are also cases where the addressees pass away before the date of service of the documents. Many judicial officers add to the certificate of (non-)service of documents detailed information on the progress of the service or the reasons for non-service of documents.