Case of the Day: Atlantic Specialty v. M2 Motor Yachts

The case of the day is Atlantic Specialty Insurance Co. v. M2 Motor Yachts (S.D. Fla. 2017). The action was an admiralty case arising out of a fire aboard a yacht, allegedly caused by a defective switch manufactured by one of the several Valeo companies. Two of the defendants were Valeo SA, a French company, and Valeo Switches Und Detection Systems, a German company.

The plaintiff served process on the two by mail, as permitted by Article 10(a) of the Hague Service Convention, and the question on the motion to dismiss for insufficient service was whether it was necessary to serve a translation as well.

While it noted some contrary precedents, the court correctly held that no translation was required. Article 5 expressly provides that documents served by the Central Authority in accordance with its local law must be translated if the receiving state requires a translation; but there is no similar requirement under Article 10(a). The Special Commission has taken the view that no translation is required under Article 10. See Practical Handbook ¶¶ 180, 283. There are a few countries that have made qualified objections to Article 10(a) noting the necessity of a translation, and of course in those countries one should respect the qualified objection. And it may be difficult to obtain recognition and enforcement in the foreign state if you served process without a translation. But in general, there is no requirement of a translation for service of process under Article 10(a).

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