Case of the Day: Grupo Radio Centro v. American Merchant Banking Group

Yesterday’s case of the day, Hughes v. Ashton, was a pleasure to report: clear, and rightly decided to boot. No such luck with today’s case of the day, Grupo Radio Centro v. American Merchant Banking Group (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). The case involves difficulties in serving process in Mexico under the Hague Service Convention, a topic noted here.

American Merchant Banking sued Grupo Radio Central, a Mexican firm, for breach of an oral contract for consulting services. The method of serving process is unclear from the decision, but it is apparent that GRC was served with the summons and complaint, either by the Mexican central authority or by another method permitted by the Hague Service Convention. GRC moved to quash the service on the grounds that the summons did not specify whether the time to respond was calculated in calendar days or business days.

The court, without substantive discussion, quashed the service. I think this is a clear mistake. As we saw in an earlier post, the Mexican Central Authority is taking the position that the summons needs to specify calendar days. But here the issue is not the central authority’s refusal to serve documents that in its view do not comply with the Convention. Here, rather, the documents were served. So it is up to the US court to make its own determination about whether the Convention requires the summons to specify that the time for response is calculated in calendar days. I think the answer to that question is clearly “no”. Nothing in the Convention supports it, and this position is, as far as I know, unique to Mexico.

All this being said, a US plaintiff serving process in Mexico ought to comply with the Mexican central authority’s view, if only to avoid erroneous decisions such as this one and to maximize the chances of enforcing the eventual judgment in Mexico.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

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