Updated by Katelin Myers
At Planet Depos, we often receive inquiries from clients regarding depositions in China. While China is indeed a member of the Hague Evidence Convention, depositions are not permitted there.
Technically, if one wanted to take a deposition in China, they’d need to receive permission from the Chinese Central Authority; however, that permission is not easily attained. Only one deposition has successfully taken place in mainland China, and it involved a heroin smuggling case in 1989. Further, the U.S. Government was given to understand that that permission should not be construed as a precedent.
American attorneys and other deposition participants should be advised of the real risk of arrest, detention or deportation if proceeding with a deposition in China.
To avoid those risks, there are a couple of viable alternatives for Chinese depositions; one of the most common is to have the willing witness fly to a nearby country, such as Hong Kong. Once in Hong Kong, the deposition can be legally taken as easily as one proceeds in the U.S.
Now, if a trip to Hong Kong doesn’t sound appealing to the deponent, an easy way to sweeten the deal would be to conduct the deposition near Disneyland. Yes, you read that correctly! Since the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland in Lantau Island, many Chinese citizens have a fascination with the theme park and often are willing to be deposed if counsel will agree to arrange for hotel accommodations near Disneyland.
Besides a potential trip to the Magic Kingdom, there are many benefits to taking depositions in this autonomous territory. From culture to entertainment to business, we’ve compiled the top reasons for taking depositions in Hong Kong:
- Restrictions? I Think Not: Unlike China, depositions can be taken anywhere and at any time in Hong Kong. Just like in the U.S., the testimony of a willing witness can be taken at any location (conference room, office, etc.), over any means (phone, videoconference, etc.), and no permission is needed from the government.
- Location is Key: As noted above, a witness can be deposed anywhere in Hong Kong, such as at a hotel, conference room, office, videoconference suite, etc. Plus, for attorneys planning to attend the deposition in person, there are many English-friendly hotels to choose from (the tricky thing is narrowing down all the options!).
- Where’s the Money?: Hong Kong is currently one of the top ranked countries in the world for business (ranked #3) and is a hub for international trade. And as a leader in the global market, it’s also a hotspot for international depositions, arbitrations, and meetings. For attorneys tackling international cases, don’t be surprised if one of them takes you to Hong Kong!
- So Much to Do, So Little Time: Hong Kong may be a central country for business, but that doesn’t mean its all work and no play! Along with Hong Kong Disneyland, there are many other sites to visit while you’re in the country: watch the sunset at Victoria Peak, ride the Star Ferry, hike the Dragon’s Back, explore museums or temples, and much more!
- No Travel Fees!: Planet Depos currently has teams living all over Asia and can provide reporter, videographer, and interpreter coverage for Hong Kong depositions with no travel fees. Our local Hong Kong team can also provide logistical support and assistance whenever needed.
So before you book your flight to Asia, check with opposing counsel to see if the witness may prefer to take a mini vacation to Disneyland — or even Hawaii, another great option. With the ability to fly witnesses and attorneys around the globe so easily, it seems the ageless Disney theory is true — it’s a small world after all.