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FAQ / Q. Is there a hierarchical order in which service must be attempted on a foreign State under the Act?


A. The FSIA (28 U.S.C. Sec. 1608(a)(1)-(4) provides for service of process on foreign state defendants in a four-step, hierarchical manner: (I) pursuant to a special agreement between the plaintiff and the foreign state; (ii) as prescribed in an applicable international agreement; (iii) via mail from the court clerk to the head of the foreign state's Ministry of Foreign Affairs; (iv) via the diplomatic channel. See, Ristau, International Judicial Assistance (Civil and Commercial), International Law Institute, Section 3-1-15, 74-75 (1995 ed.); Born & Westin, International Civil Litigation in United States Courts, 335, 402 (1989); Born, International Litigation, The International Lawyer's Deskbook, American Bar Association, 288 (1996); Delaume, Law and Practice of Transnational Contracts, Sec. 8.02, 224, 225 (1988). The legislative history of and court cases concerning the FSIA are extensive. The FSIA clarifies the circumstances in which a foreign state will be immune from suit and embodies a federal long-arm statute pursuant to which in personam jurisdiction can be obtained over a foreign state, political subdivision, agency or instrumentality, provided that service of process is effected in compliance with the service provisions of the Act which are found at 28 U.S.C. l608(a). Service must be performed in a hierarchical manner --- if service cannot be made in accordance with l608(a)(l), then service is attempted pursuant to l608(a)(2) and so forth until the various methods are exhausted.

 




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