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Chancery Permits Service By Email Upon Singaporean Defendants


Skye Mineral Investors, LLC v. DXS Capital (U.S.) Ltd., C.A. No. 2018-0059-JRS (Del. Ch. Jul. 15, 2021).
Delaware’s long-arm statute permits service of process on a foreign defendant by personal service, by mail with signed return receipt, by means authorized by the foreign jurisdiction where service is to occur, or “[a]s directed by a court.” 10 Del. C. § 3104(d). In this decision, the Court of Chancery confirms that each of the grounds is an independent basis for effecting service, and alternative methods of service are appropriate so long as they are “reasonably calculated to give actual notice.”

After unsuccessful attempts to serve two Singaporean defendants, the Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to effect service through substituted means -- specifically, e-mail. The plaintiffs then attempted to serve the defendants through the substituted means, but the plaintiffs did not involve the Singaporean courts. The defendants moved to dismiss on the grounds that they had not been properly served. According to the defendants, Singapore law did not permit plaintiffs to serve foreign processes in Singapore by substituted means pursuant to an order of a foreign court.

The Court of Chancery disagreed. As a threshold issue, the Court concluded that § 3104(d)(4)’s “[a]s directed by a court” language was an independent basis for service of process. The Court reached this conclusion by looking to the structure of § 3104(d), to the broad construction given to the Delaware long-arm statute, and by analogy, to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f)(3), which contains similar language to § 3104(d)(4). Next, the Court concluded that the process used was not contrary to Singapore law. Singapore law permits the service of foreign processes under means authorized by a foreign court if the means are analogous to those permitted in Singapore. Singapore courts also permit substituted service, including by electronic means.

Based on these conclusions, and the defendants not disputing that the substituted service was reasonably calculated to give them actual notice, the Court denied the defendants’ motion.

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