16 May 2015

Hadef in the Courts: Service in Egypt under the Riyadh Convention

Authored by: Walid Azzam and Karim Mahmoud

Hadef in the Courts: Service in Egypt under the Riyadh Convention

Walid Azzam, Partner in Hadef & Partners’ Dispute Resolution team and Associate, Karim Mahmoud analyse the legal position of service in Egypt under the Riyadh Convention and discuss its practicalities.

Service of summons can be a major hurdle to overcome in any normal civil case. Service, however, can become more complicated when the plaintiff is faced with defendants in foreign jurisdictions. In such cases, service is traditionally conducted through diplomatic channels.

In order to facilitate the judicial process, a number of GCC and Arab countries have signed agreements of judicial cooperation. The most recent country to sign / enter into such an agreement is Egypt, which became a signatory in August 2014 to the Al Riyadh Arab Convention for Judicial Cooperation of 6 April 1983, as amended (the “Riyadh Convention”).

The Riyadh Convention is intended to facilitate the judicial cooperation between the signatory countries. Signatories to the Riyadh Convention enjoy a broad range of bilateral support that can make obtaining relief against a foreign defendant much easier. For example, an Egyptian defendant to a UAE proceeding can be served in Egypt under the Riyadh Convention by applying to the local Egyptian court with an official copy of the UAE court summons.

Previously, serving an Egyptian defendant in a UAE case required service through diplomatic channels – a process that is quite lengthy and provided no certainty of success. Now, as both the UAE and Egypt are signatories to the Riyadh Convention, it is possible to incorporate the convention’s provisions to facilitate the service of the court’s summons between the UAE and Egypt.

The main article which may facilitate the execution of services is Article 6 of the Riyadh Convention. Article 6 states that legal documents and papers relating to civil or commercial cases shall be sent directly by the authority or the competent legal officer to the court of the place where the person who is required to be served resides.

In practice however, the process requires collaboration with a lawyer in Egypt (or as applicable, the other jurisdictions under the Riyadh Convention) in order to receive the original copy of the UAE court summons and proceed with the follow up of the service in the other jurisdiction.

In certain circumstances, it may be required for the local counsel to do some additional work when approaching the court as the local courts, in some jurisdictions, are sometimes unaware of the Conventions existence, let alone its application.

In summary, serving a UAE Court summons to Egyptian defendants via the Riyadh Convention is a more efficient alternative to service through diplomatic channels which can be fraught with delay and uncertainty.  However, given the novelty of this method, it will require a “hands on” approach by a local Egyptian counsel to inform the relevant Court of the process and also to regularly follow up on the ground.


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