Deposing a witness is a headache. There is coordination, fees, preparation, and numerous other things to consider. Deposing an international witness can be even worse. In addition to the standard procedures you have to undertake, there are other things to consider as well. What are the internal laws of the witness’s home country? Do you need an interpreter? Must you first submit a request through the Hague Evidence Convention?
While difficult, international depositions are by no means impossible. Proper preparation, like every other stage of litigation, is the key.
In addition, here are some helpful things to consider:
- What local laws are there where the witness is?
- Do you need a visa for you and the court reporter to perform the work in the foreign country?
- What oath requirements are there?
- Do you have to make travel arrangements for a diplomatic officer from a consulate?
- Can you compel testimony if the witness is unwilling?
- How can you reserve a location? Can this be done by video-conference?
Some countries strictly forbid pre-trial discovery, while others allow it in limited circumstances. Further, if the country is a member of the Hague Convention, that adds another layer of difficulty.
Certain processes can be used to get evidence without a deposition. Things such as letters rogatory and letters of request can be used. Thankfully, if you only need documentation, this is a much easier procedure. But, they can be time consuming and expensive.
However, you can tailor requests to your needs. It is important to talk to an expert in this area to determine what is right for your situation. Preemptively, the client should be warned that a substantial expense is forthcoming. Finally, be careful to not go on a fishing expedition.