Preparing for Depositions in Finland! (Updated 2017)

Panorama of Helsinki

By Suzanne Quinson

Finland is an enviable destination for depositions.  First of all, there is plenty of coffee! Finns drink more coffee than any other nation in the world. No one will have any issues remaining alert through a deposition in this country. In seriousness, though, Finland makes scheduling depositions easy, and it is a unique and gorgeous country to visit, should you be attending the depositions in person.

Finland is a party to The Hague Evidence Convention, but permits the taking of depositions regardless of the witness’ nationality, with no restrictions or troublesome requirements. This makes it an ideal location to depose a Russian witness who is willing to travel, incidentally, as Russia does not permit depositions at all. Further simplifying matters, Finland requires no visa for U.S. citizens visiting, so you can attend in person with ease. Should you prefer to attend via videoconference (or mobile videoconference), hotels in Helsinki and elsewhere can easily accommodate this request. Also worth mentioning, English is widely spoken and Finns are by nature a hospitable people.

Working with a court reporting agency with local reporters will really make scheduling in Finland a breeze, first by drastically cutting travel costs related to the deposition. The agency can schedule the reporter, videographer, and interpreter if one is needed, so you don’t have to scramble to find a qualified team. A local reporter and videographer can assist with printing of exhibits, as well as the myriad of other logistical details involved in depositions abroad. They can even offer suggestions for how to make the most of any free time you have while in Finland, whether you like museums, music, or nature. 

The Northern Lights from Lapland, Finland. Photo by Vincent Guth.

The Northern Lights from Lapland, Finland. Photo by Vincent Guth.

On that topic, the time of year will affect the amount of free time you have. Winter days in Finland are short and cold, and the winter is long! If the winter is cold enough, the Northern Lights can be seen in Helsinki, though, so maybe the bite of frigid temperatures isn’t so dreadful. Spring, when it finally arrives, is brief and still chilly, but can be quite pretty, with flowers peeking out of the snow and everything gradually turning lush and green. Helsinki becomes more bustling as spring creeps rapidly to summer and people get out and about. Summer days are long (19 hours of sunlight in Helsinki!) and warm — but not hot — and Finns take advantage by getting outside for hiking, sailing, and festivals. 2017 promises some especially appealing festivals, as Finland celebrates 100 years of independence. Autumn is a short season as well, packed with gorgeous colors, and more outdoor activities before winter comes and brings back the cold temperatures.

Lastly, a few things to remember for your depositions in Finland:

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months past your departure from the Schengen Area.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
  • If taking the deposition via videoconference, conduct a test call prior to the deposition!
  • Sample the coffee and enjoy Finland!
Suzanne Quinson

Suzanne Quinson, International Scheduling Coordinator

Finland has much to offer as a deposition destination.  For more information, visit U.S. State Department – Finland Travel or U.S. Embassy – Finland.

Contact our international team for more information about depositions in Finland, elsewhere in Europe, or anywhere by calling 888.433.3767 or emailing international@planetdepos.com.


Changing Times: Taking Depositions in Cuba

By Neal Price

A vintage car drives down the streets in Centro Havana

It’s time to face facts – the geopolitical landscape is changing. From BREXIT to the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, both of which came as a shock to people around the world, it’s apparent, as we say in the South, that “times, they are a-changin’.” Another rather surprising political shake-up came in late 2014 as President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced that the 50+ years of bilateral tensions would ease and that their “governments would restore full diplomatic ties.”[i] In the months following, the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC was reopened, and the U.S. Embassy in Havana was back in operation. Travel and trade restrictions began to relax with the first U.S. commercial airlines offering services to Cuba in more than 50 years. This thaw in relations, along with President Trump having recently taken office, has left us asking ourselves the questions – “Just what does this mean?  Where are we going from here?”

U.S. businesses such as Google[ii], Airbnb[iii], and Starwood Hotels & Resorts[iv] began investing heavily in new ventures in Cuba, and talks of the trade embargo being lifted are now floating around Havana and Washington. As is the case with any foreign venture, there will be disagreements, negligence, patent disputes, and the list keeps going, all of which leads to litigation. And lawsuits naturally lead to depositions – many times, hundreds at a time.

So, exactly how does a U.S. attorney go about deposing a witness in Cuba? Cuba isn’t party to The Hague Evidence Convention, nor is it a party to the Inter-American Convention, and without these Conventions, there is no real process in place for attorneys to enter Cuba and lawfully take depositions there.

If you find yourself needing to depose a Cuban citizen, your best bet at this point would be to reach out to the U.S. Embassy in Havana who will, in turn, reach out to the Ministry of Justice in Cuba to ask for permission. As is the case in many countries, the depositions could be required to take place in front of a Cuban judge, open to the public, or even through the means of written questions.

Only time will tell how this will all play out, but we can probably bet it will be a fascinating process to watch.

Neal Price – International Scheduling Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] Felter, Claire, Brianna Lee, James McBride, and Danielle Renwick. “U.S.-Cuba Relations.” Council on Foreign Relations. February 3, 2017. Accessed March 2, 2017. http://www.cfr.org/cuba/us-cuba-relations/p11113.

[ii] Nicas, Jack and Juan Forero. “Google Signs Deal With Cuba to Speed Services.” The Wall Street Journal. December 16, 2016. Accessed March 2, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-signs-deal-with-cuba-to-speed-services-1481573940.

[iii] Griffith, Erin. “How Airbnb Pulled Off a Coup in Cuba.” Fortune. April 22, 2016. Accessed March 2, 2017. http://fortune.com/cuba-havana-airbnb/.

[iv] Trejos, Nancy. “Starwood: 1st U.S. Company to run Cuba hotels in decades.” USA Today. March 21, 2016. Accessed March 2, 2017. http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/roadwarriorvoices/2016/03/19/starwood-become-first-us-hotel-company-run-cuba-hotels-decades/82040434/.

 


Taking a Deposition in Germany

By Neal Price

As discussed in some of our previous blogs, taking depositions in Germany can be tricky. With a little preparation, and breaking everything down step-by-step, you’ll find that depositions in Germany aren’t as bad as initially thought.

In the second installment of our international deposition videos, we walk you through the process and give you some advice so that your deposition in Frankfurt, Germany can go off without a hitch.

As a recap —

  1. Prepare your notice and submit it to the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, along with the required deposition fee, at least six (6) weeks before your desired deposition date.
  2. Send your list of participants, along with all electronic equipment each will be bringing, to the Consulate at least three (3) business days before your deposition date.

Planet Depos has been covering depositions in Germany, and around the world, for over a decade.  We can provide you with court reporters, videographers, and vetted interpreters, and we can even help you with printing and shredding exhibits while you’re there.  Give us a call at 888-433-3767 or email us at international@planetdepos.com to speak with one of our International Deposition specialists today!

 

Neal Price – International Scheduling Manager

 


Trial Presentation: Wired vs. Non-Wired Courtrooms

By David Andre

Trial presentation has become a powerful litigation tool in today’s courts, but there are certain pieces of equipment that are required.  The idea behind trial presentation is to display your case materials in a digital format so that you can communicate more effectively with the jury.  Generally, you’ll need a way to display this digital info, so you will need such equipment as monitors, TVs, projectors, screens, laptops, etc.

Presenting in a Wired Courtroom

Some courts have trial presentation equipment built into the room.  These “wired” courtrooms enable you to just plug in your laptop at counsel table and display your case.  The equipment in a wired courtroom doesn’t always work that easily though; you definitely want to do a test run as they sometimes have resolution problems or are faulty for other reasons.  Wired courtrooms are like bike-shares: everyone is allowed to use and abuse them.

Additionally, there’s a range of trial presentation equipment that’s been set up in these wired courtrooms.  There are generally three options, or a combination of, that you’ll encounter.  My personal preference is a projector placed reasonably close to the jury, and I like to pull up a document to test out how well the jury will be able to see it.   Another acceptable alternative you may see is monitors for the jury, counsel, witness, and judge.  If you’re close enough to a screen, the size doesn’t matter much.  Again, test it out. Lastly, a large TV on wheels can suffice, but you obviously want it close to the jury while not blocking anybody’s line of sight.   If all you are showing is video, then it doesn’t really matter how large it is.   However, if you want to show documents, they need to be readable.

When setting up for trial presentation, I sometimes like to bring in my own projector and find a good place for it even if the courtroom is wired.  If the existing setup isn’t sufficient for my needs, I will bring whatever other equipment is required.

Non-Wired Courtrooms: Bring Your Own

Now, your normal courtroom with no trial presentation equipment is what we call a “non-wired” courtroom.  Such a courtroom will, obviously, need equipment if you want to utilize trial presentation in your case, but it’s completely up to you which equipment you’ll use.  If there’s space for it, a good projector and screen is all you need.  You just want to make sure everyone can see it, and read from it, so test it out.

Some prefer monitors for everyone, and in certain courtrooms, it’s effective, but perhaps a little more expensive.  Personally I think it’s often overkill.

Reach out to Planet Depos and ask to talk to one of our certified trial presentation specialists at 888.433.3767.  We keep detailed notes on every courtroom we visit, and we reach out to all courtrooms prior to trial.  We assess the situation and can help determine the best options for your trial.  We are dedicated to making your trial presentation experience with us a good one, and your trial a success.

David Andre – Trial Support Specialist


Colombia to the Rescue! Deposing Witnesses in South America

By Suzanne Quinson

In the vast continent that is South America, three giants pose a problem when it comes to depositions:  Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador.  None of these countries permits depositions.  Something else this trio has in common?  Neighboring Colombia!  Fortunately, for attorneys needing to depose a witness residing in one of the three afore-mentioned countries, Colombia does permit depositions regardless of the witness’ nationality.  Provided the Venezuelan, Ecuadorian, or Brazilian witness is willing to travel, you can move forward with your deposition in beautiful Colombia.

Colombia keeps things simple for depositions, too, making it that much more appealing to depose the witness here.  Colombia is a party to The Hague Evidence Convention, but not a high-maintenance one (that’s you, France), imposing no restrictions or requirements as far as location, and permitting U.S. consular officers or private attorneys to conduct the deposition.  Prime locations in major cities such as Bogota or Medellin are plentiful, and videoconferencing is a viable option if it isn’t practical for attorneys to attend in person.

If attending in person (lucky you!), here are some basic travel notes to remember:

  1. No visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting for under 90 days.
  2. A valid passport is required for entry into Colombia (best practice is to never travel internationally with fewer than six months’ validity remaining on your passport).
  3. Be aware of the exit tax! This must be paid in cash at the airport upon departure, though it is usually included in the airline ticket – confirm with your airline.
  4. Remember these international travel safety precautions.

If attending remotely, remember:

  1. Conduct a test call to confirm the stability of the connection between sites.
  2. Ensure all counsel are in agreement regarding the administration of the oath.
  3. It is best if the reporter, interpreter, and videographer are with the witness to ensure a cleaner, more accurate transcript.

Planet Depos has been covering depositions in Colombia and worldwide for over 15 years.  For more information, or to schedule a deposition abroad, contact Planet Depos International Scheduling at 888.433.3767 or international.scheduling@planetdepos.com.

Suzanne Quinson - Case Manager

Suzanne Quinson – Case Manager


Taking Depositions in Mexico

By Neal Price

If you find yourself needing to take a deposition in Mexico, you’re in luck!  There are no Hague Evidence Convention restrictions regardless of the nationality of the witness.  What’s more, you can hold the deposition in any hotel, office, or conference room in the country.  Basically, it’s just like taking a deposition in the U.S. — as long as the witness is willing, you can proceed by simply issuing a Notice of Deposition.

Mexico has many accessible cities with international airports scattered throughout the country.  There are direct flights from the U.S. to the most popular locations – Mexico City, Cancun, Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas.  If the city where the deposition is to be held is within driving distance, you’ll only need to find the nearest border crossing and travel to your location.  No need to worry about obtaining a visa as long as you’re not staying in the country for over 180 days.  Just make sure your passport is up to date with a suggested six months’ validity beyond the planned date of departure from the country.  Before you leave home, make sure you check out the U.S. State Department’s website for any travel warnings.  You can also enroll in STEP while you’re on the State Department’s website.[i]

Taking a remote deposition in Mexico

After careful consideration, you may decide that you don’t want to travel into Mexico.  Then what do you do?  You can attend remotely by any one of several means – teleconference, videoconference, or mobile videoconference.  Your court reporting agency should be able to assist you with setting up these convenient remote methods of attending the deposition.  If you decide to go this route, you’ll need to decide if the reporter should be in Mexico with the witness or attending remotely with you in the U.S.  Just keep in mind that if an interpreter is involved, it’s best to have the interpreter wherever the reporter is located so that the reporter can make an accurate record.

If you need assistance with setting up your next deposition in Mexico, please reach out to the Planet Depos International Scheduling Department who can assist you with everything from arranging for a court reporter, videographer, and interpreter to setting up conference rooms for your deposition.

Neal Price - International Scheduling Manager

Neal Price – International Scheduling Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] STEP is a program used by the U.S. State Department as a means for U.S. citizens who are traveling internationally to let the State Department know where they will be traveling. The traveler will provide contact information so the State Department can alert the traveler of any travel warnings, or what to do in case of an emergency.


Taking Realtime Arbitrations in China

By Jade King

The Planet Depos local team set up for an English arbitration recently with nine realtime connections.

The Planet Depos local team set up for an English arbitration recently with nine realtime connections.

Though China does not permit the taking of depositions (and there are some great alternative locations in this previous blog), there are many arbitrations that take place. Mainland China is home to more than 1.3 billion people. And with a massive 160 cities having more than one million residents, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn there were well over 100,000 arbitrations conducted in China last year. Most of these, of course, were domestic and conducted in Chinese, but there is a growing demand for English international arbitration, particularly administered by the “big 4” arbitration institutions: CIETAC, SHIAC, SCIA and BIAC. These institutions have centres in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong.

Currently, including the big 4 institutions, unless the arbitral contract specifies English as the language, the arbitration will be conducted in Chinese. But as these and other institutions move to internationalise their arbitral rules, further growth in English reporting services is to be expected.

China FlowersMainland China provides a complex and challenging work environment, though not without its rewards! A visa is required for any non-Chinese national entering mainland China for any purpose. In most cities, visitors will struggle without the assistance of Putonghua-speaking colleagues. Customs and living standards are vastly different to the Western norm. On the other side of the ledger is the opportunity for life-changing experiences such as visiting the Great Wall, wandering through the European concessions, or eating a fresh jianbing for breakfast as you walk to your hearing.

The local PD reporters team is well versed in the arbitral rules of the above institutions, speaks Chinese, and possesses China visas or return-home cards.  Please contact asia@pd-reporting.com if you have an English arbitration coming up on the mainland, and we will be happy to provide our first-class realtime reporting service just as in any other country!

Jade King - Director of International Arbitration

Jade King – Director of International Arbitration


Top 5 iPad Apps for the Legal Professional

By Mary Lide

Your iPad can be used for much more than FaceTime and Netflix.

Planet Depos has put together a list of the top five iPad apps for the legal professional. These apps will help make your life easier, and make your iPad as versatile and useful as any laptop.

DocketLaw

DocketLaw

PacerMonitor

PacerMonitor

Lexis Advance

Lexis Advance

WestLaw

WestLaw

Rulebook

Rulebook

Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader

     

 

 

 

 

 

1. DocketLaw

This free app is handy for figuring out dates and deadlines based on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  When you enter the date of a triggering event (like a trial date), the app will calculate events based on which jurisdiction you’re in. For an additional fee, you can subscribe to specific, rules-based calendars for state and federal courts.

2. PacerMonitor

This is a great app for staying on top of Federal Court case dockets and filings. A companion to PacerMonitor.com, this app makes it easy to view, download, and email case filings. You can even save the cases that you’re tracking so that they are easy to access.

3. Depending on which service you use, we’ve split #3 up into a two-fer:

a. Lexis Advance | b. Westlaw

These apps are companions to the best legal research services. You can set up alerts, access and share your research, and view documents easily. They’re great for staying organized across devices, from your laptop to your tablet and back again.

4. Rulebook

This app is good for staying up-to-date on federal and state court rules. It’s easy to navigate through the different rule sets, which do need to be purchased—and it’s great for accessing the Bluebook. It also has a handy multi-task function for going back and forth between authorities.

5. Adobe Acrobat Reader

With all of the documents you need to read daily, a good PDF app is essential. Adobe does it best—you can easily open any PDF, search, zoom, annotate, sign, share, and save documents. We especially recommend it for reading your Planet Depos transcripts, which are always provided in full and condensed PDFs!

In this digital world we live in, it’s important to be able to rely on our devices to help us out. These apps are must-haves for any 21st-century legal professional—the tools you need are right at your fingertips!

Mary Lide - Case Manager

Mary Lide – Case Manager

 

 


The 4 Most Challenging Countries for Depositions (And Solutions!)

By Katelin Myers

Taking an international deposition can be a difficult task all on its own, but add The Hague Evidence Convention regulations, and there is a whole new challenge to behold! However, with this quick guide, it won’t be all that tricky to jump through the hoops:

Depositions in Japan

Challenge: All depositions must be taken with prior permission (at least six weeks in advance) at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or the U.S. Consulate in Osaka, and rooms must be reserved ahead of time. All non-Japanese residents must apply for a special deposition visa to attend.

Solution: If you have enough time, you can use the extra weeks to go down the deposition checklist: secure your team, submit a Court Order, apply for your visas, etc. If you’re extremely pressed for time and your witness is willing to travel, taking the deposition in a nearby country, such as South Korea or even Guam, can eliminate the regulatory hurdles.

Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany

Depositions in Germany

Challenge: All depositions must have approval at least six weeks in advance, be taken at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, and a list of all electronic equipment submitted to the Consulate beforehand.

Solution:  The solution is similar to Japan: either use the time to go down the Germany deposition checklist or travel to a nearby country to take it instead (e.g. Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, etc.).

Depositions in France

Challenge: Prior permission is required for taking depositions in France, and the Letters of Request must be submitted in French, along with all of the details for the deposition (location, witness name, address, etc.). Depositions must take place at the U.S. Embassy in Paris or one of the many Consulates throughout the country.

Solution: Have a location and team ready for the approval, along with backup dates, so you’ll be set to book once permission is granted. Also, to avoid any delays, have translation services at the ready when your request is approved.

Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, Mumbai, India

Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, Mumbai, India

Depositions in India

Challenge: Prior permission is required for taking a deposition in India, and you must have a visa in order to attend (processing times vary). Obtaining a visa is challenging in and of itself, as you need various forms of documentation, including an invitation to enter the country from an Indian attorney.

Solution: If you don’t have time to obtain a visa and permission, there is always the option for the witness to travel to a nearby country where requirements are looser. However, if your witness can’t travel, the deposition can be taken via videoconference with the reporter attending from the States.

 

 

For more helpful tips or to schedule an international deposition, contact Planet Depos at international.scheduling@planetdepos.com or 888.433.3767.

Katelin Myers - International Scheduling Coordinator

Katelin Myers – International Scheduling Coordinator


Eight Safety Tips for International Travel

By Suzanne Quinson

passport-931882_1920International travel can be a harrowing experience – long flights, multiple layovers, luggage issues, language barriers, and the like are enough to rattle even seasoned travelers. Another genuine concern is safety when abroad. Fortunately, there are resources available which provide valuable information both on avoiding trouble when traveling overseas, as well as what to do in the event trouble finds you. Here are a few suggestions for safe travels.

  1. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive security messages; this also makes it easier for you to be found in the event of an emergency.
  2. Review the U.S. State Department Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts online.
  3. Read up on the country you will be visiting for area-specific considerations. You can find this information on the U.S. State Department’s website, where you can also find contact information for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at your destination.
  4. Register with your Embassy. This alerts the Embassy as to where you are and can save time should you need to report anything or require assistance of any kind.
  5. Make sure a responsible party in the U.S. has a copy of your flight itinerary, hotel information, etc., in case of an emergency.
  6. Keep copies of all your travel documents in the event that you lose the originals.
  7. Use your own best judgment! Think of the advice you would give a loved one traveling abroad, and take it yourself.
  8. Take the advice of knowledgeable resources, like those mentioned above, or colleagues, friends, etc., who may have traveled to your destination before. Before you depart, ask them questions about their trips to the region so you have that much more information.

The world, and traveling it, can be very dangerous. Certain dangers are beyond our control, but many dangers can be minimized through preparedness and plain common sense. Once you have gathered your information and taken the recommended precautions, you can enjoy your trip abroad and the attractions your destination offers!

Planet Depos is a global court reporting agency with reporters, videographers and interpreters living and traveling throughout the world. For more safety travel tips and recommendations, contact Planet Depos International Scheduling at 888.433.3767 or international.scheduling@planetdepos.com.

Suzanne Quinson - Case Manager

Suzanne Quinson – Case Manager