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Providing International Legal Solutions for Over 30 Years and Countries Across the Globe


Hague Evidence Convention

The Hague Evidence Convention is a treaty which entered into force in the United States in 1972 and has become a widely used mechanism for obtaining compelled evidence from witnesses in foreign countries that are signatory.

Of the approximately 39 different Hague Conventions, Hague Convention #20 is the "Evidence" Convention and is solely for the acquisition of evidence between signatory countries (usually by compulsion).

This method of obtaining compelled evidence is the only option in signatory countries because the courts of a foreign country will not recognize the authority of a U.S. court subpoena.

Compelled requests for evidence in a foreign country in accordance with the Hague Evidence Convention follow the procedures of a formal Request For International Judicial Assistance. This request must contain specific and required text, be signed by the forum U.S. court and is forwarded to the Central Authority designated by the foreign country under this Convention.

It is very important to note that MOST FOREIGN COURTS PROHIBIT PRE-TRIAL DISCOVERY, or rather what they interpret to be pre-trial discovery. This makes the language of the evidence request critical (contact our office for more information).

Our office can prepare all necessary documents, including the actual request for evidence, and facilitate the acquisition of the testimony or other evidence (where possible).

If the official language of the foreign country is not English, translation of all documents (request and attachments) is required. This also means that any transcripts or physical evidence produced will be in the foreign country's official language and you would be required to translate to English for use in U.S. courts. In addition, if the deponent speaks a language other than the official language of the country in which the testimony is given, it will be your responsibility to provide an appropriate interpreter.

Keep in mind that U.S. counsel is seldom allowed to directly depose a compelled witness, but can “request permission” to be present. If U.S. participants are granted permission to attend a deposition and do not speak the language, it is the attendee's responsibility to provide an interpreter, whose presence must also be permitted by the foreign court.

Our office can provide accurate legal translation of any documents transmitted or received and any interpreter services requested/required.

Time frames for obtaining evidence in this manner vary greatly from country to country. The average time frame is between two and six months, but can take longer in some countries. Because of this, our office will provide any necessary affidavits to inform the appropriate U.S. court that formal procedures have been initiated and the reasonably expected time frame for completion.

It is also preferable in certain countries to retain a local attorney to assist, if necessary. This can help to avoid unusual time delays and circumvent other potential complications. We can help with this if requested.




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