Taking depositions in Paris sounds like a glamorous time, until you read the fine print, that is. Your head likely will be spinning so much that you may as well be reading French. Unless, of course, you are fluent in French, in which case it may as well be Greek. The key to avoiding headaches is getting someone else to read all the fine print and break it down so the process of coordinating your depositions in France is pain free and flawless. C’est si bon! Better yet, work with someone who has experience guiding attorneys and paralegals through the process – an international court reporting firm with vast experience covering depositions in France and throughout Europe.
France is a party to The Hague Convention and requires prior permission from their judicial authority before deposing a French citizen or third-country national. If your witness is an American citizen, this permission is not required, nor do any of the other requirements apply. The request must include a copy of the court order, listing specific information (see the list here), and the names and addresses and telephone numbers for the court reporter, interpreter and/or videographer. All documents sent to the appropriate ministry must be accompanied by French translations. The court reporting firm’s international depositions expert can review your documents to confirm they are complete, and provide instructions on where to send the compiled documents, avoiding delays and complications down the road.
France also requires depositions to take place at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, or one of the U.S. Consulates (take your pick: Lyon, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Rennes, Toulouse, and Strasbourg). Exceptions are not difficult to obtain, however, due to staffing and space constraints, particularly in Paris. An explanation of the reasons for selecting this method must be included with the request for authorization from the Ministry of Justice, when requesting to take the deposition off U.S. Embassy or Consulate grounds. The court reporting agency can step in if you need assistance reserving a location for the deposition, whether you need a conference room in a hotel, or videoconference facilities. Paris is an expensive city, so mobile videoconference may be an attractive option for a cost-conscious client.
With thorough instructions and assistance from the court reporting firm, you can enjoy the benefits of scheduling and traveling to France. France does not require a visa for U.S. citizens visiting for under 90 days, but your passport must be valid for at least 90 days beyond your planned departure from the Schengen area. You will also need at least one blank page on your passport. Paris provides endless options to fill any spare time you have while there – even in a downpour. With gorgeous Gothic cathedrals galore, the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, street after street packed with delectable restaurants, and scenic walking along the Seine and in the Luxembourg Gardens, you can find delightful ways to fill every minute you aren’t working on your case. Parisiennes are happy to help with directions, particularly if you try to speak a little French. If you prefer not to suffer through amused smiles (or worse) at your accent, however, you can also ask the reporter, videographer, or interpreter, and they will enthusiastically share their favorite spots with you, and perhaps even offer you a guided tour.