An article from Collyer Bristow LLP on 3rd October says that Hague Convention letters of request are an effective tool used by US litigants to obtain evidence from potential witnesses in the UK in situations where the witnesses are unwilling to give evidence voluntarily. The US and UK are signatories to the Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters (the “Hague Convention”). This means that litigants can ask a US court to seek assistance from the High Court of England and Wales by issuing a “letter of request” to obtain evidence from potential witnesses in the UK, and seek a court order to compel the witness to attend for a deposition – and are generally obtained with relative ease. The letter of request will (or should), amongst other things, explain the relevance of the evidence sought and provide details of the subject matter in relation to which the witness will be deposed. The article explains what can be done if such an order is received. For example, a deposition order could be challenged where the requesting party has failed to properly demonstrate why the evidence sought from the witness is relevant for trial, as opposed to being a mere fishing expedition. The article explains that the deposition will be conducted in the same way as taking evidence at an English High Court trial and the parties will be required to have English legal representation in a hearing overseen by a court-appointed Examiner.
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