Originally published on June 29, 2011. This article was updated on February 17, 2021.
In Part I of my article on setting up your deposition abroad, I talked about the conditions, challenges and procedures involved in dealing with international depositions. In Part II we are going to touch upon the logistics involved in setting up your global deposition.
The logistics of international depositions is a vast subject, and I look forward to getting deeper into various aspects in future articles. In brief, however, the main points to always remember are as follows:
1) 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, you reduce travel costs and second, and most importantly, you will be working with people who know the local country and/or region where you will be conducting your deposition. This kind of local knowledge is the single most effective way of reducing potential problems, because your team will know how to advise you and avoid potential issues as a matter of course. When you work with a global deposition agency such as ours, you compound this protection by having a knowledgeable coordinator put everything together.
If you can’t find local resources for your given deposition country (check with me if you need some help with this), the second best thing is to go with U.S.-based reporters who have experience traveling and who specialize in working in your deposition country or region. Working with knowledgeable people who come prepared is the only way to go when deposing abroad.
2) Plan Ahead
In the U.S., court reporters are available in every city large and small, and attorneys are used to being able to set up depositions on the same day or the day before simply by making a few phone calls.
When you’re working on a deposition abroad, the first thing to remember is that the United States legal system (much like our preference for baseball over soccer) is, relatively speaking, a global anomaly. Very few foreign countries have the same procedures in place for discovery and evidence taking as we do. Most foreign jurisdictions have very limited discovery procedures, and a lot of witness examination is actually done by the judge and not by individual attorneys. When it comes to using video in trials, the U.S. is the only country I have come across which allows the use of videotaped depositions in court in lieu of the witness physically being present.
What does this mean? The relative strangeness of U.S. legal procedures in other countries means that U.S. style deposition services are very rare abroad. English-language court reporters who understand how to do U.S. depositions are a particularly rare breed. They do exist, but because their work relies solely on U.S. cases and clients, which tend to crop up in foreign countries with a much lower frequency, the economy in countries abroad cannot support thousands of reporters like it does in the States.
The same goes for U.S. legal videographers, who are often even rarer. Also, let’s not forget the obvious fact that U.S. depositions require English-language reporters. In a country like Spain or Saudi Arabia or Sweden, where people and the local courts do not function in English, English-language reporters are going to be a rarity because they’re not needed by the local system.
The best solution for dealing with this reality is of course to plan ahead, and to begin scheduling your reporters and videographers as far in advance as possible. There are great professionals available abroad, but it doesn’t work like it does in the States – you can’t get a reporter the same day, or the day before. I always recommend arranging global depositions at least two weeks in advance – ideally a month in advance – in order to assure availability of the key professionals you’ll need to make the deposition happen.
Also, don’t forget the time difference, which is another hugely important reason to schedule as far in advance as you can. Did you know that in Europe it’s already evening (if you’re reading this during the daytime in the States, that is). And in Asia, it’s already tomorrow. That means, if you happen to be organizing a depo in either of these regions, you’re already a day behind.
I can’t tell you how many clients I get who call in a fluster because they need a deposition arranged in Hong Kong or Korea for the next day. They don’t seem to realize the rather inconvenient fact that it is already the next day over there. Needless to say, such last-minute depositions never seem to come off when working abroad.
3) Be Prepared for Cost Differences Abroad
There are many reasons for higher costs in foreign countries, the most prevalent of these being a more restricted supply of expert services, higher taxes, higher energy and transportation costs, higher inflation, a higher cost of living, and also the relative weakness of the dollar against other currencies, which can make foreign prices appear even higher when paying in dollars.
My specialty is saving clients money. In my twenty years of experience organizing depositions abroad, I have identified the best global professionals and techniques for doing so. Understanding how to cut costs when deposing witnesses in foreign countries is absolutely crucial for any firm, large or small. Part of doing so means that you must be aware of the cost differences in foreign countries, and it is important to make sure that your end client is aware of them as well before moving ahead.
Given the latest news on the Covid-19, a lot of attorneys are wondering about the safety of air travel during the outbreak and if they should be traveling for their international depositions. Optima Juris has the perfect solution to allow you to conduct your international deposition, without needing to travel or stepping foot onto an airplane.
Ian Hardy is the President and lead Global Deposition Expert at Optima Juris, the world’s first and only reporting agency that exclusively handles depositions abroad.