Section 1782 Discovery in Aid of Foreign Proceedings: A Powerful But Much Disputed Tool in International Litigation


In enacting 28 U.S.C. § 1782, Congress created a mechanism for parties in foreign proceedings to obtain evidence from U.S. companies and residents. Recent contested Section 1782 applications have raised an array of legal questions, including whether it can be used in aid of a foreign arbitration, whether documents sought must be located in the judicial district, and whether the statute is applicable if the discovery contravenes the rules of the forum country.

Section 1782 Basics

Section 1782(a), entitled “Assistance to Foreign and International Tribunals and to Litigants before Such Tribunals,” provides, in relevant part:

The district court of the district in which a person resides or is found may order him to give his testimony or statement or to produce a document or other thing for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal, including criminal investigations conducted before formal accusation. The order may be pursuant to a letter rogatory issued, or request made, by a foreign or international tribunal or upon the application of any interested person and may direct that the testimony or statement be given, or the document or other thing be produced, before a person appointed by the court.

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