There are three main components to a full preparation and smooth process that need to be taken into consideration when you are planning an international deposition. First, you must understand international depositions in general, and specifically for the country (or countries!) where you will be taking your deposition(s). Second, proper preparation for international travel is a must. Third, consideration of local culture and societal norms will ensure your trip and deposition go according to plan.
Understand the Deposition Process Abroad
The first, and most important, aspect of the perfect international deposition is gaining an understanding of the entire process involved. Checklists are a handy tool for organization and are certainly useful when it comes to scheduling your deposition. They are a great way to structure a project, stay on task, and boost productivity. Your court reporting company should be able to provide you with all the important points you need to know and how far out you should be preparing.
To get you started, here is our quick checklist when scheduling a deposition abroad:
- Can you take a deposition in the country in question?
This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s one that many don’t realize they should be checking. Verify the local laws governing depositions before you do anything else. You may find your planned country doesn’t even allow a deposition to take place and you’ll need to move it elsewhere.
- Does your state allow depositions in a foreign country?
Another obvious point, but one worth mentioning. You need to ensure that your state’s code of civil procedure authorizes the taking of depositions in a foreign country. If it doesn’t, you may need to have your witness come to you.
- Determine if the witness is a willing witness.
If the witness is willing, fantastic! You can move forward per the country’s requirements. If the witness is unwilling, it gets a little more complicated. You will need either a Letter of Request or a Letter Rogatory to compel the witness to testify. Letters of Request are submitted in cases where the country is a party to The Hague Evidence Convention. Letters Rogatory are submitted in cases where no treaty exists with the foreign government. Each letter is asking assistance from a judicial authority in compelling the witness to testify. Each letter typically takes a year to process once sent to the appropriate authority.
- Check out the travel requirements.
Now we start to get into the meat-and-potatoes. You verified you can take a deposition abroad, so you need to check out the visa requirements. Does your planned country require a travel visa or a deposition visa? How long does that process take? We find it’s often two to six weeks, so be sure you’re checking this early. You will also want to verify your passport validity. It’s always recommended that your passport is valid for at least six months before embarking on any international travel. Finally, be sure to see if you need to update any of your vaccines.
- Discuss the administration of the oath.
It is highly probable that if the reporter/notary is administering the oath, they are outside their jurisdiction in a deposition taking place overseas. In that event, there are options to be considered.
- Counsel can stipulate that they understand the reporter is not authorized to administer the oath in (insert country) but would like him/her to administer the oath. Additionally, counsel stipulates that they waive any objection to the validity of the deposition based on the authority to administer the oath.
- Apply to the court for a Commission to Administer Oaths.
- Hire a notary to administer the oath (this option may not be available in all countries and will involve additional fees).
- Determine the court reporting services you will need.
Do you need a U.S.-trained court reporter on site when conducting the deposition? What about a videographer? Will you require an interpreter, and in what dialect will they need to be fluent? While those are the big questions, you should also consider what kind of on-the-ground support you may need. Services such as printing and shredding can come in handy. You may also want to look into videoconference options and realtime reporting.
- Identify your preferred location and lock in deposition dates.
Your deposition location may depend on the country in which you’re deposing. Some countries, such as Japan and Germany, require depositions to be taken within the U.S Consulate or Embassy. Due to those restrictions, rooms book quickly, so be sure you know ahead of time. For other countries, you may be able to take the deposition anywhere, such as a hotel or office. It’s important to know the number of attendees and the types of refreshments available. When scheduling you will need to lock in the date, start time, and end times. Keep in mind, depending on location, hours for depositions may be restrictive, meaning extra days could be needed. In addition, interpreted depositions necessarily take approximately twice as long as non-interpreted depositions.
- Peruse a “cheat sheet” of the local culture.
You should know at least basic formalities. How do people greet one another? Are there any glaring “absolutely under no circumstances do this” etiquette faux pas to avoid at all costs? E.g., in Japan, do not crumble up someone’s business card, shove it in your pocket, or write on it! You don’t want to come across as rude or ignorant, so do take the time to do a little research. Remember, you are the visitor, and it’s your responsibility to learn what behaviors to avoid, and how to ingratiate yourself to people you encounter. You’ll get a lot more out of your trip this way!
This checklist serves as an outline to the process of handling an international deposition. To start the checkmarks flying, dig into the State Department’s website to find out if/where your particular depositions can be held.
Proper Preparation For International Travel
Proper preparation for your trip abroad means checking your passport, checking visa requirements, vaccination requirements, travel time, and planning to allow adequate recovery from jet lag! The very first step is to make certain that your passport is valid for at least six months past the planned departure date. This should be the case before any international travel, not just deposition travel. Some countries will bar entry to those with less than six months’ validity on their passport, so take this guideline seriously. At the same time, check the visa requirement, process of obtaining said visa, and processing time.
You should also look into essential things like recommended or required vaccines, as well as travel time involved in reaching your destination, and the time change. When allotting time for travel, remember the very real possibility of delayed flights and other common travel horrors. Plan extra time for these contingencies, as well as jet lag recuperation! Allowing time for your body to adjust to time changes will make you much more comfortable and alert on your trip. Vaccines will keep you healthy, as different areas of the globe are subject to different health risks.
Know the Local Culture and Societal Norms
Culture plays a big role in all interactions. We typically aren’t even aware of it until interacting with a different culture. In a foreign country, you will be very aware of the differences. Preparing ahead of your trip will help you feel a bit less like a fish out of water and can also help with important details like phrasing your questions for more prompt and informative answers. For example, if someone is of a culture not given to elaboration or speaking about oneself, you may need to word your questions differently and more probingly than for a person from a very open, chatty culture.
Additionally, knowing the local culture makes your time abroad much more enjoyable. It can be uncomfortable to be in a strange place, not speaking the language and everything you do seems to put off the natives. This is easily avoided! As a bonus, having at least a basic understanding of the culture and the history, too, can take your trip from strictly business to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit one-of-a-kind sites, eat exotic and delicious treats, and create wonderful memories.
With preparation for your international depositions complete, you’re ready to jet off to your destination for a smooth week of depositions. With all the travel investigated, requirements met, and accommodations booked, no anxiety about the business of getting to your destination will distract from your case. Now that you know a bit about the culture into which you’ll be diving for a few days (or several!), you can eagerly anticipate your planned sightseeing jaunt. You may even have been able to tweak your line of questioning for a more effective deposition!
It is worth mentioning that not only does all this prep work pay for itself, it doesn’t even take that much time, especially when using a handy checklist. The State Department offers most of the scheduling-relevant information, as well as information regarding visas and other travel requirements. There are several sites offering overviews of cultural and societal norms throughout the globe, and a global court reporting should be able to offer valuable insight as well.
Proper planning and preparation mean your international depositions will go off with no delays or issues, positively impacting your case and enhancing your world travels.
Let Planet Depos prepare your perfect international deposition. You can reach our team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone at 888.433.3767, or through our convenient international scheduling portal.