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France (British Motorists)

Volume 976: debated on Wednesday 16 January 1980

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20.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is satisfied that the practice currently operated by the French consulate in London, whereby British motorists receive a judicial document whether in person or by post without a translation, is in accordance with authorised arrangements between the United Kingdom and France relating to the service of such documents; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that United Kingdom citizens are not prejudiced.

The convention of 2 February 1922 with France on legal proceedings in civil and commercial matters—Cmd. 1661—allows consular service of judicial documents without translation provided no compulsion is used. We have no agreement with France covering service in criminal cases, and English law is silent on this subject. I understand that the French Consulate-General does on request explain the contents of such documents. No problems arising from their practice have come to my notice, but if the hon. Member has particulars of a case where a United Kingdom national's interests have been prejudiced I will gladly look into it.