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[From Singapore Office] Singapore Accedes to the Hague Service Convention

NO&T Dispute Resolution Update

NO&T Asia Legal Review

Claire Chong
Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
Journal /
NO&T Dispute Resolution Update No.6/NO&T Asia Legal Review No.68 (September, 2023)

A PDF file of the bilingual version is also available by clicking on “Download full text (PDF)”. For details on our Dispute Resolution Team at the Singapore Office, please refer to this PDF file.

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*Please note that this newsletter is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. In addition, it is based on information as of its date of publication and does not reflect information after such date. In particular, please also note that preliminary reports in this newsletter may differ from current interpretations and practice depending on the nature of the report.


In May 2023, Singapore acceded to the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (“Hague Service Convention”). This is the latest in a series of developments in Singapore aimed at facilitating cross-border litigation.

Service of documents on counterparties is an essential step in the valid commencement and conduct of civil proceedings. In cross-border disputes, however, this can be fraught with uncertainty, increased costs, and delays. Complications may also arise where diplomatic or consular channels are involved in effecting service, as is traditionally the case.

To address these difficulties, the Hague Service Convention was developed to facilitate and streamline the channels of transmission amongst contracting member countries, including Japan.

A simplified and streamlined process is available to litigants of a contracting member country seeking to effect service on parties in other member countries. This could benefit litigants in Singapore, including foreign companies’ Singapore subsidiaries, which seek to pursue civil actions against a defendant located in another member country and vice-versa.

The Hague Service Convention is expected to enter into force for Singapore on 1 December 2023.

Overview of the Hague Service Convention

The Hague Service Convention is a multi-lateral treaty which establishes a largely uniform set of rules for the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents in overseas jurisdictions. This framework is intended to enhance legal certainty and in turn, business confidence when entering cross-border deals.

There are at present 82 contracting states to the Convention, including many key trading partners of Singapore. These include the UK, US, and Japan.

The Convention stipulates a primary channel of transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents for service abroad. This takes the form of a Central Authority, which is designated by each contracting country to receive requests for service from other contracting countries. Singapore will designate its Ministry of Law as its Central Authority under the Convention, while Japan has designated its Ministry of Foreign Affairs as its Central Authority.

The relevant authority or judicial officer for service of process in the originating country will submit a request to the Central Authority of the destination country, along with the documents to be served. The Central Authority will then serve the documents or arrange for them to be served on the addressee by a competent agency designated under domestic laws of the destination country. Thereafter, the Central Authority will issue a certificate in a prescribed form either confirming that service was effected or if not, stating the reasons why.

The Hague Service Convention also allows contracting countries the freedom to use alternative channels of service, including:

  • diplomatic or consular channels (Articles 8 and 9);
  • postal channels (Article 10(a));
  • direct communication between judicial officers, officials or other competent persons in the originating and destination jurisdictions (Article 10(b)); and
  • direct communications between a party interested in judicial proceedings and judicial officers, officials or other competent persons (Article 10(c)).

It is important to note that contracting countries may register objections to the use of the alternative channels above. For example, Japan has declared objections to Article 8 and Article 10(a) of the Convention, which means that the corresponding diplomatic (or consular) and postal channels are not available to validly effect service of foreign process in Japan. Litigants should therefore take care to verify the alternative modes of service that are available in their intended destination countries.

Singapore will implement the Hague Service Convention by introducing amendments to the relevant rules and regulations governing service of process, including the following:

  • Rules of Court 2021;
  • Singapore International Commercial Court Rules 2021; and
  • Family Justice Rules2014.

Further details of the implementation of the Hague Service Convention in Singapore will be announced by the Ministry of Law in due course.


Singapore’s accession to the Hague Service Convention is a welcome development. It is expected to improve the ease and certainty with which Singapore litigants may commence and pursue civil actions against defendants located in other contracting countries and vice-versa. It will also mitigate the risk of civil actions being challenged or stayed on grounds of invalid service, or judgments being challenged at the enforcement stage on the same grounds. Overall, litigants can expect savings in time and costs when enforcing their rights in jurisdictions that are party to the Convention.

This newsletter is given as general information for reference purposes only and therefore does not constitute our firm’s legal advice. Any opinion stated in this newsletter is a personal view of the author(s) and not our firm’s official view. For any specific matter or legal issue, please do not rely on this newsletter but make sure to consult a legal adviser. We would be delighted to answer your questions, if any.

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