The case of the day is SEC v. China Intelligent Lighting and Electronics (S.D.N.Y. 2014). The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Xuemei Li, the president and CEO of China Intelligent Lighting and Electronics, and Tianfu Li, the chairman and CEO of NIVS IntelliMedia Technology Group, Inc., for securities fraud. Both resided in China. The SEC sought leave to serve the two by alternate means under FRCP 4(f)(3). Specifically, the SEC sought leave to serve process by publication in the International New York Times and by e-mail.

The judge denied the motion on due process grounds, as the SEC had not shown a present link between the email addresses and the defendants and as there was no reason to believe that the publication in a newspaper would reach them. Thus the judge did not face the more difficult question that usually arises in such cases, namely, whether service by email is permissible in Hague Convention countries such as China that have objected to service by postal channels. The answer to that question, by the way, is “no,” at least if the defendant’s address is known.