What Are Letters Rogatory? When Are They Used?

There are a lot of important documents required in the legal process. One you should know about is called letters rogatory, also sometimes referred to as letters of request or letters of attorney.

Read on to learn more about letters rogatory, where they’re accepted, and when they’re needed.

What Are Letters Rogatory?

Letters rogatory are used when individuals from two different countries have legal business to conduct. It is the formal request from a court in one country to an appointed judicial authority in another country requesting the service of judicial documents.

All countries have different procedures when it comes to upholding the law. Therefore, another function of letters rogatory is establishing a fair and neutral method of gathering and sorting evidence across jurisdictions with different rules.

Where Are Letters Rogatory Accepted?

Letters rogatory are accepted in jurisdictions around the world, including England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, most of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and many other nations where English is not the official language.

Under the guidelines of international substantive criminal law, rogatory requests are regarded as foreign state communications. This means the country receiving the request must recognize and enforce its own criminal laws before it recognizes and enforces foreign criminal laws. 

In other words, a rogatory is not intended to replace domestic procedures but rather to facilitate them across borders and make investigations more efficient.

How Do You Prepare Letters Rogatory?

Letters rogatory must follow a strict template to be accepted by the foreign court. Translation into the receiving country’s language is often necessary, accompanied by a notarized affidavit verifying the translation. 

They must be specific and complete. However, the information requested should not overstep international boundaries. Many countries may view the US rules for evidence collection as going overboard. A list of the questions or the specific documents that need to be produced must be included to avoid this transgression. 

Any mistakes, incomplete letters, or improper filing methods could result in the refusal to execute your request.

How Do You Send Letters Rogatory?

There is no official process for sending letters rogatory. However, it is most common that a lawyer will send them on behalf of their client to a court in another country. They are transmitted through diplomatic channels requesting a foreign government to gather evidence on behalf of the requesting party.

It is also important to note that letters rogatory are reserved as means of obtaining judicial assistance from foreign countries in the absence of a treaty or some other agreement. 

This is why it’s very important to determine the country that you are requesting evidence from or serving process to is not subject to any other multilateral treaties on judicial assistance. If you send a letter rotary when it is not appropriate to do so, this would be considered a violation of that country’s sovereignty.

How Long Do Letters Rogatory Take?

Letters rogatory are notorious for taking a significant amount of time to process, often a year or more. The diplomatic channels that they are required to go through are known to be a very time-consuming method of transmission. Consequently, the foreign judicial authority usually sets a date for letters of request.

The wait time can be shortened by transmitting a copy of the request through a local attorney directly to the foreign court or other appropriate authority. This is only true if this option is permitted by the foreign country. You can find a list of foreign attorneys who have expressed a willingness to assist U.S. clients on the websites of U.S. embassies and consulates overseas.

As you can see, there is a lot of legal know-how required to navigate the letter rogatory process. That’s why it’s so important to find a trusted expert to help you along the way. 

Professional International Process Service

When a court case requires international service of process, things can get complicated very quickly. Torri’s Legal Services can help.

We provide international service of process with efficiency and perfection. Our team has over 30 years of experience in the field. We will work to quickly accomplish your request while following every applicable international law. 

Call now to learn more!

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