What is the purpose of letters rogatory?

It is a rare occurrence for most people, but occasionally a person or entity will need to petition a foreign court for a legal matter in the states. Consider, for instance, an injured person who is seeking compensation from another person who has fled the states, or a single parent who is desperate to get his or her children back after the other parent took them out of the country. As you may know, overseas litigation may be more common for business owners in Massachusetts and elsewhere, since many companies do business with foreign entities.

If you are pursuing legal action against an overseas company for breach of contract, copyright infringement or another matter, your options are different from filing suit in the states. The American Bar Association explains that letters rogatory are the means used to start the legal process in these cases. The process used can vary between different foreign jurisdictions, but common points in letters rogatory usually include the following:

  • A request for assistance involving the foreign court
  • The nature of the requested assistance
  • The type of case involved, including a brief synopsis
  • A statement expressing willingness to reimburse the assisting court and to provide similar assistance when requested

As you may imagine, the processes involving letters rogatory can be extremely complex and require experienced counsel. The process can also be time-consuming and may involve unexpected costs. Therefore, the content in this blog is meant to inform you, but it should not replace the advice of a lawyer.

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