January 2, 2020
Wow, 2020 is just around the corner! That means a whole new year for U.S. depositions taking place in countries around the world. We have updated our list from 2018 and added a couple more things we think you should know about international depositions in 2020.
- Your first step: find out if you can depose a witness in that country
The most essential first step in organizing any international depo is to find out the legality of holding a U.S. deposition in that country. The U.S. Department of State website is a great resource for finding out this information and can give you a quick overview of the official rules on taking testimony of willing witnesses in specific countries.
- Plan ahead: international depositions require time
We recommended giving yourself a four week leeway. Of course, it’s possible to work within a shorter timeframe, but it’s imperative to understand the differences between planning a domestic deposition versus one abroad.
- Verbatim court reporters and legal videographers are a rare commodity abroad
You might be surprised to know that some countries don’t have any court reporters or deposition providers at all. Making it extremely important to plan as early as possible in order to reserve the right personnel.
- International depositions can incur more costs than domestic depos
Why? Mostly because foreign courts do not rely on verbatim transcripts to the extent that we do in the United States; making qualified court reporters in limited supply and in high demand. A knowledgeable international deposition agency can be a useful resource for locating the best English-speaking and certified local service providers – keeping costs as low as possible.
- You have options
Thanks to much better Internet connectivity worldwide and the rise of web-based video conferencing programs, many new options have arisen for conducting international depositions. Although it is always best (and highly recommended) to have all parties present with the witness for the most reliable and clearest record, there are several different cost effective approaches that can also be taken.
Find out more here: https://www.optimajuris.com/international-depositions-what-are-your-options/
- Characteristics of a professional-level interpreter
Professional-level interpreters bring a unique skill-set that the average bilingual person does not possess or has refined. That being so, selecting a qualified, proficient interpreter for your project will determine how well your message will be delivered. Here are a few characteristics to look for in a professional interpreter.
- Extensive Vocabulary – An interpreter should also be able to speak the target language at the level of an educated native speaker and effectively interpret.
- Job Experience – Accreditation and certificates from a reputable interpretation institution shows that an interpreter has put in the necessary work to do the job well.
- Local knowledge – Having a deep knowledge of local customs will help protect you from needles complications.
- Nerves of steel – Skilled interpreters know how to keep their cool and remain relaxed, even in tough situations.
- When using an interpreter remember to use these guidelines
- Speak clearly and slowly
- Avoid long or complex sentences
- Skip the jokes or or humorous stories, these typically do not translate well
- Advise your group to speak one at a time
- Maintain eye contact with your audience when possible not at your interpreter
- Try not to interrupt your interpreter
- Eliminate excessive gestures or hand movements
- For an unwilling foreign witness use the Hague Evidence Convention and letters rogatory
If you must compel your foreign-based witness to appear, there are two tools at your disposal: letters of request under the Hague Evidence Convention and letters rogatory.
- U.S. notary powers are only effective within United States territory
If you take a notary outside of the U.S., his or her ability to legally notarize disappears. The only exception to this rule concerns U.S. consular officers and people working on U.S. consulate or embassy grounds abroad, which are technically considered to be extensions of American soil.
- Stipulating on the record is the easiest and most expedient way to assure the admissibility of your witness’s testimony
When attorneys need to swear in witnesses abroad, the time-honored solution is for both sides to stipulate on the record that the court reporter can swear in the witness. Please see our article on Swearing in a Witness Abroad for more details.
- Know what time it is in the deposition country
If you are reading this in the U.S. and planning a deposition in Asia, you are already a day behind! Make sure you know the time in your deposition country, especially if you have people attending remotely in the U.S. You can find out the time and date around the world here: timeanddate.com.
- Know the major holidays in the deposition country
Imagine your reaction if your deposition had to be rescheduled because of a major local holiday when everything was closed. Don’t let that happen to your depo. You can see a complete list of international holidays here: timeanddate.com/holidays/.
- Germany and Japan require depos to take place at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate
There are a small handful of countries which require special permissions and procedures for obtaining testimony from their nationals. Germany and Japan are two such countries.
- China, Russia and Brazil do not allow U.S. depositions on their soil
If you need to depose a witness in one of these countries the best solution is to have your witness travel to a nearby country or location (like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Finland) where U.S. depositions are allowed and take the deposition there.
- India and Japan require special visas to attend depositions
All U.S. citizens traveling to India will need to apply for a business visa before travel. A Japanese Special Deposition visa is required for attorneys and other relevant personnel (including translators and court reporters) to go to Japan for the purpose of attending a deposition.
- Always hire a professional, trained U.S. legal videographer based abroad
This will ensure that you legal video record will be shot in NTSC with the standards of the U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence. Definitely avoid using camera operators or video technicians in foreign countries who have never done depositions before – you’ll find that the video record taken by such individuals may be unplayable in the U.S., requiring an expensive format conversion, or worse, it may end up being considered inadmissible in court.
- Go Local Wherever Possible
This is the best piece of advice you’ll ever get. By working with local (but duly certified and professional) court reporters, videographers, and interpreters, you end up killing two birds with one stone. First of all, you reduce travel costs considerably, and second, you will be working with people who know the local country and/or region where you will be conducting your deposition.
- Partner with a knowledgeable agency
Partnering with a court reporting agency that specializes in international depositions will take a lot of the work off of your plate and ensure that potential issues related to your international deposition are anticipated and handled in advance. A good agency can be a useful resource for locating the closest possible providers with the proper certifications for your deposition.
- Avoid Problems Before They Happen
Unlike a deposition taking place down the street or in a nearby city in the United States, depositions in foreign countries involve a significantly higher degree of cost and risk. Therefore, a key consideration for deposition organizers should be anticipating and avoiding problems before they happen. Optima Juris has an exclusive, one-of-a-kind learning center with country-specific PDF guides providing essential information on organizing a deposition in every country around the world. These are a must for legal-professionals.
- Don’t forget to have fun!
If you can travel in to do the deposition yourself, go ahead and do it – and seize the opportunity fully!
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- Your first step: find out if you can depose a witness in that country