If you have a situation in Massachusetts where you require some kind of legal or judicial action from another country, you may need to file letters rogatory through your local court. 

Letters rogatory will be received by the foreign court from whom you are requesting judicial assistance. Letters rogatory are necessary to gain the sanction of a foreign court for an action that would otherwise be considered a violation of that country’s sovereignty. 

The proper way to draft letters rogatory

The United States Department of State Bureau of Consulate Affairs advises you to make sure to research the country’s statutory guidelines for granting the assistance you seek. You will also need to address your letters rogatory to that country’s proper judicial authority. 

You should include the specifics of exactly what procedures you wish for the foreign court to follow. If requesting any documents, be sure to state as specifically as possible exactly what documents you are requesting. 

Keep in mind that U.S. discovery rules do not always line up with the related system in another country. You should account for this to ensure a request for discovery is not considered overbroad. 

Lastly, avoid including unnecessary information that may confuse the foreign court you are writing to. Aim for non-technical English written in simple terms. 

The time frame for execution

While you may be able to shorten the time frame by contacting a willing foreign attorney, you may still end up waiting a while for your letters rogatory to be executed. It may take longer than a year for your letters rogatory to be processed through diplomatic channels before you receive your response.