If you are someone associated with International law in the United States in a legal capacity and needs to secure documents, people, or just about anything brought to the country, letters rogatory are your best friends.
If you are someone fighting a case under International law in the country, it might be a good idea to know what a letter rogatory is and how it can possibly help you. As a lawyer, you will be the person both clients and judges will reach out to for understanding and preparing letters rogatory.
What Is A Letter Rogatory?
A letter rogatory is sometimes also known as a letter of request. It is a letter written by a member of one judicial body, usually a federal judge, to a member of another judicial body with a different jurisdiction, usually a different country, requesting judicial assistance.
If a federal court requires documents, witnesses or any other evidence that might help an ongoing case in that federal court, a formal letter requesting such assistance from a judge in a court of that country is sent out. These letters usually use diplomatic channels to be delivered; that is, they use diplomatic packages to deliver the letters. This means that it could take at least a few weeks for the letter to reach the judge and costs a few thousand dollars.
All the expenses related to letters rogatory is borne by the person or people who want the assistance and not by the US judicial system. Expenses include the charges for sending diplomatic packages, any expenses incurred in procuring the evidence, and the delivery of the evidence back to the US federal court.
Preparing To Write Letters Rogatory
You will need to do some research before deciding to draft and send a letter rogatory. In some cases, such letters might not be required, while in other cases, it might be less expensive than the few thousand dollars mentioned earlier.
- Conventions and treaties: If the country you need information from is part of an international treaty or convention, it might make your job easier. If the country is part of the Hague Service Convention, there is no need for a letter rogatory. Certain other conventions and treaties make is relatively easier to get such letters across to the other judicial body.
- Specific requirements: Some countries are known to be cooperative and if you need assistance from such a country, it would make sense to spend the time and money preparing and sending a letter rogatory. Some countries have direct channels available for such requests, which reduces the time and cost of sending such requests.
Drafting A Letter Rogatory
These are some basic pointers when drafting a letter rogatory to increase chances of assistance from the receiving judicial body:
1. The language used must be simple, non-technical, and easy to understand.
2. The request must specifically state the assistance required and avoid being vague to increase the possibility of the request being executed.
3. The letters must be addressed correctly and to the correct authority in the receiving country.
4. The letter must include details of the case, the parties involved, the request for assistance, any documents required to process the request, and details of the person or people to be contacted, when relevant.
Letters rogatory may not always be relevant or necessary, so it is important to do your research and understand your requirements well. As a person requesting such assistance, you must be financially and legally prepared for the process. As a lawyer, you must understand every facet of sending such a request and advise your client accordingly.
Maya Shulman, Esq.
Shulman Family Law Group