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The Korean Supreme Court has recently rendered a judgment highlighting the requirements for Korean courts to accept the service of legal documents, in Korea. In a case involving a dispute over the existence of a right of easement, the Supreme Court of Korea declared that merely listing an address in appeal documents is not sufficient if there is no possibility of receiving the legal documents at that location. This decision has far-reaching implications for those wishing to serve documents on a person or company in Korea. For another related article please see: Legal Document Service in Korea via Hague Service Convention.

Korean Supreme Court on the Service of Court Documents in Korea

The Supreme Court of Korean case 2023 DA 204224 involved Mr. A filing a lawsuit against Mr. B to confirm the non-existence of a right of easement. However, Mr. B never attended both the first and second hearings of the appellate hearing, thus, leading to a default judgment against Mr. B.

Mr. A had initially filed the lawsuit in April 2021, listing Mr. B’s address as 1. Despite attempts by the Korean court’s process server/postal worker to deliver the documents, Mr. B received the documents by visiting the process server’s office. All subsequent legal documents were then served to Mr. B’s representative, Mr. D.

The Supreme Court of Korea emphasized that proper service of process is crucial for ensuring the fair administration of justice. Merely listing an address in appeal documents does not suffice if there is no possibility of the defendant receiving the legal documents. In this particular case, the address provided by Mr. B’s representative in the appeal document was considered invalid for service of process, since it was known that the defendant would never receive the documents at this address.

The Supreme Court’s Civil Division 1 annulled the appellate court’s decision and remanded the case to the Busan High Court. The panel of judges highlighted the requirements set forth in Article 187 of the Korean Civil Procedure Act, which mandates that service of process must occur at the recipient’s residence, domicile, place of business, or office. This ensures that there is a valid place of service and a genuine possibility of the recipient receiving the legal documents.

Article 187 of the Civil Procedure Act further outlines that if service cannot be made by ordinary delivery, supplementary delivery, or service by posting due to the absence of the recipient and no suitable individual is available to receive the documents, the only viable option is official service (service by publication) or mailing as specified in Article 186 of the Civil Procedure Act of Korea.

The Supreme Court’s ruling emphasizes the significance of proper service of legal documents in Korea. This decision highlights the need for individuals and their representatives to provide accurate and accessible addresses for the service of process. A proactive law firm with significant experience in difficult service of process issues is often required. IPG Legal has numerous international and local service experience that has led us to create proactive and unique ways to serve defendants.

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling underscores the importance of proper service of process in Korean legal proceedings and the need for experienced and proactive legal counsel in Korea.

You may schedule an initial free consultation with an Attorney at: Schedule a Call with an Attorney in Korea.

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