What are you to do when your case requires you to take evidence in a foreign country, and there is no treaty with that foreign country? First, relax. Second, get ready to write! You’ll need to fire off a letter rogatory to request assistance from the appropriate judicial authority in order to proceed with your planned deposition. In a previous blog, letters of request were discussed as a means of deposing an unwilling witness. Letters of request, however, can be used only if both the requesting authority and the granting authority are parties to The Hague Evidence Convention.
The most daunting part about letters rogatory is the time involved – after you’ve sent the request. The execution of a letter rogatory usually takes at least a year. Sometimes this can be shortened, if the country in question permits you to submit the request through a local attorney directly to the appropriate foreign court or authority. Letters rogatory are usually submitted through diplomatic channels. You can check on the U.S. Embassy’s website for a list of local attorneys who are interested in helping U.S. clients.
The actual construction of the letter rogatory is straightforward, though. The letter should be addressed to “The Appropriate Judicial Authority of (insert of country).” You are asking for a favor, so here is the information the judicial authority needs to consider granting it:
- A statement that this request for international judicial assistance is being made in the interest of justice
- A brief synopsis of the case
- The type of case, e.g., civil, administrative, etc.
- The nature of assistance requested
- The name and contact information of the person(s) to be deposed
- A list of questions to be asked
- A list of documents or other evidence to be produced (be very specific here)
- A statement that the requesting party will provide similar assistance to the judicial parties granting the request
- A statement that the requesting party will reimburse the judicial authority providing assistance for any costs incurred executing the letter rogatory
- The signature of a judge
A cover letter should be submitted with the letter rogatory, as well as translations of the letters into the official language of the foreign country. Lastly, a notarized affidavit confirming the validity of the translations should accompany the letters.
As soon as your deposition can move forward, you can begin the scheduling process with a global court reporting firm. This is vital to reduce or even eliminate travel costs for the reporting team, as they will have realtime court reporters and videographers living all over Europe, Asia, and other regions of the world. This part of the process should be just like scheduling in the U.S., when you partner with the right court reporting firm. The reporter and videographer will further simplify the process of scheduling depositions abroad by reserving the conference room, printing exhibits, and streaming realtime text and audio to any remote participants.