Sometimes legal cases transcend the borders of the United States and involve individuals and jurisdictions in other countries. If you have a case where you need a foreign court to implement an action in your case, like helping you obtain discovery, you may draft letters rogatory to send to the foreign court.
You may already have experience with the time frame of judicial actions in U.S. courts. However, if you want action from a foreign court, keep in mind that executing letters rogatory might take longer than you expect.
Time frame for letters rogatory
The U.S. State Department explains that letters rogatory generally require a year or longer to fully execute. This is because your document will go through diplomatic channels on the way to the foreign court. Diplomatic channels tend to be time consuming, plus diplomatic communication is not always predictable.
Judicial treaties may be a factor
It is possible to shorten the time span for executing your letters rogatory. It depends on whether the country you send your documents to is a party to a treaty with the United States. Certain treaties streamline the judicial process between countries. Examples include the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and the Additional Protocol and the Hague Service or Evidence Conventions.
Sending letters rogatory directly
In the absence of an international treaty, you might reduce the time needed to process your document if you can send your letters rogatory directly to the foreign court or the proper authority in that country. You must make sure that the country in question will permit you to send your letters rogatory to a court or another authority.
Learning how to send your letters rogatory is just one step in the process. You should also properly draft your documents to have them conform to the standards of the country of the foreign court you wish to serve with your letters rogatory. This may prevent mistakes that delay your request.