Reducing Uncertainty When Serving Judicial Documents Involving Singapore Civil Proceedings Abroad

The Hague Service Convention is an old treaty that came into being in 1965. The purpose of this Convention is to allow for a reliable and efficient means of serving court documents on parties living, operating or based in another country between countries who have acceded to the Convention. This becomes all the more important in today’s world when, frequently, court cases commenced in Singapore courts involve parties located overseas. Currently, there are 79 contracting parties to the Convention including China, India, Japan, Korea and Russia.

Last year, I suggested in Parliament that Singapore consider acceding to the Convention so that litigants in Singapore can take full advantage of the benefits provided under this Convention. I sought an update earlier this year and am glad to note that the Government has decided to accept my suggestion and accede to the Convention. I am confident that, once we have acceded to the Convention, this will bring much needed certainty on the issue of service to litigants not only when pursuing their case in the Singapore courts, but when enforcing their judgments against foreign parties in the Convention countries.

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Mr Murali Pillai asked the Minister for Law what is the progress of the Ministry’s feasibility study on the possibility of Singapore acceding to the Hague Service Convention.

Mr K Shanmugam: The Hague Service Convention is an international treaty that facilitates and streamlines the transmission of judicial and extrajudicial documents for service abroad in civil and commercial matters.

After undertaking a careful review of the Convention and consulting stakeholders, we have decided to accede to the Convention. By becoming a Party to the Convention, Singapore will be able to leverage an internationally harmonised set of rules for the service of judicial and extrajudicial documents abroad in many jurisdictions, including many of Singapore’s major trading partners. As the channels of transmission are internationally recognised, this would go towards ensuring that Singapore legal proceedings are not challenged or stayed due to invalid service, and the Singapore judgment that is subsequently issued may be recognised or enforced outside Singapore. This would, in turn, provide legal certainty for Singapore litigants in civil and commercial matters. For example, in the course of a commercial dispute involving a Singapore litigant and a defendant who is located overseas, the Convention may be utilised to validly serve a Writ of Summons on the overseas defendant. Subsequently, if the Singapore courts issue a judgment in favour of the Singapore litigant, the latter may seek to enforce the judgment in the jurisdiction where the defendant’s assets are located. We are currently working on the draft legislation to give effect to the Convention.




Member of Parliament, Bukit Batok SMC, Advisor to Bukit Batok SMC GROs.

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Murali Pillai

Murali Pillai

Member of Parliament, Bukit Batok SMC, Advisor to Bukit Batok SMC GROs.

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