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Letters Rogatory

Definition - What does Letters Rogatory mean?

Letters rogatory are documents containing requests from courts in one country to courts in another country when no treaty exists between the countries that explains the agreed upon procedures for making the requests.

Letters rogatory are an implicit acknowledgement by the courts in the sending country of the sovereignty of the country where the foreign court resides.

Justipedia explains Letters Rogatory

The letters rogatory process is a fall-back plan for communicating with foreign courts, which should only be initiated once it is determined that no multilateral treaties or previously agreed upon mechanisms for judicial assistance exist between two countries.

Common multilateral treaties that should be consulted before initiating the traditional letters rogatory process include the Hague Service or Evidence Conventions and the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol.

Completing the entire letters rogatory process may take a year or more because letters rogatory often must be transmitted through diplomatic channels. One way to speed up the process is to communicate directly with local attorneys working in the foreign jurisdiction that the letters rogatory are intended for.

Because of language and jurisprudential differences, good practice for drafting letters rogatory includes writing in simple English, writing with an understanding of the foreign jurisdiction’s discovery procedures, and including a common-sense summary of the facts in the case.

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