Serving process to non-U.S residents is complex in itself—what more if an individual has diplomatic immunity? Individuals with diplomatic immunity may seem untouchable as they have protection from prosecution. However, as with anything, there are always exceptions to the rules. Before we do a deep dive into that topic, let’s first touch on the basics.
Defining Diplomatic Immunity
“Diplomatic Immunity” is a legal concept under international law—specifically the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations—that protects diplomats from prosecution while stationed in their host country. Individuals that fall under this category include embassy personnel, consular personnel, and international organization representatives. These officials enjoy varying degrees of diplomatic immunity.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they can commit a crime without punishment. For instance, if a diplomat commits a grave offense, their home country may revoke their diplomatic immunity. If this happens, host countries may deport the individual.
In addition, law enforcement can disregard an individual’s immunity to protect the public from imminent danger or to stop a crime from happening. For traffic violations, officers may issue citations, and certain driving privileges may be revoked by the host country. Impounding the diplomat’s car, however, is not an option.
It’s important to note that while diplomats cannot be prosecuted, they are not exempted from taking part in civil proceedings. Here are rare scenarios where they are not protected against civil lawsuits:
- When the lawsuit involves an estate of which the diplomat is the administrator, executor, or beneficiary
- When the case involves real estate issues that involve personal property owned by the diplomat
- When the lawsuit involves professional or business activities unrelated to their diplomatic duties
How to Serve Foreign Diplomats
In situations wherein a diplomat’s immunity does not apply, legal counsel must notify them of their involvement in the case through service of process. However, it’s crucial to note that standard laws regarding international service are not applicable to diplomats. This means you cannot hire a professional process server to deliver the documents.
Instead, you would need the help of the Foreign Ministry, who will serve the legal documents to the diplomat on your behalf. Once completed, an affidavit of delivery which will serve as evidence of service of process will be filed in a local court.
Trusted Process Servers in New York
Serving legal documents to a foreign diplomat can be daunting, especially with all the guidelines surrounding international service of process. While the Foreign Ministry handles service for foreign diplomats, you may still need experts to guide you throughout the process.
Serve Index LLC’s process servers are knowledgeable in the laws governing service of process to individuals with diplomatic immunity. You can rely on us to provide you with the information you need to move forward.
We also offer other legal support services in New York, such as skip tracing, court filing, mobile notary service, and document retrieval. For questions or quote requests, reach out to us at our toll-free number 1-888-994-6339 or send a message at [email protected] today.