Legal Memorandum: Service on a Domestic Foreign Corporation

Issue: How is service on a domestic foreign corporation effected under the court rules of the Virgin Islands?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Domestic foreign corporation; Service
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 4 V.I.C. § 82(c); V.I. Terr. Ct. R. 27(b); Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(h); 13 V.I.C. § 401(a) ; 13 V.I.C. § 404;
Date: 09/01/2004

The Virgin Islands follows the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for service of process.  4 V.I.C. § 82(c) (Michie 1997); V.I. Terr. Ct. R. 27(b).  “The primary function of Rule 4 is to provide the mechanisms for bringing notice of the commencement of the action to the defendant’s attention and to provide a ritual that marks the Court’s assertion of jurisdiction over the lawsuit.”  Employees Retirement Sys. of the Gov’t of the V.I. v. Armstrong, 23 V.I. 35, 38 (Terr. Ct. St. C. 1987). 

Service on a domestic foreign corporation is governed by Rule 4(h), which provides that “[s]ervice upon a domestic foreign corporation . . . shall be effected by . . . delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to any officer, a managing or general agent, or to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(h) (emphasis added). 

Under Virgin Islands law, no corporation may conduct business in the Virgin Islands without filing certain information with the Lieutenant Governor, including the name of the corporation’s authorized agent in the Virgin Islands upon whom legal process may be served.  13 V.I.C. § 401(a) (Michie 1998).  Further, all process issued by any court in the Virgin Islands against any corporation qualified to do business here may be served on or given to that designated agent.  Id. § 404.  If the corporation does not have such an agent, the Lieutenant Governor or an official designated by the Lieutenant governor may […]

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