ATLANTA, Nov. 13, 2003 – The Special Commission of the Hague Conference on Private International Law made significant headway in resolving obstacles that U.S. lawyers face when attempting to secure service of process and evidence abroad, said an Atlanta attorney appointed by the State Department as a delegate to the commission.
Glenn Hendrix, a partner with law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, returned from The Hague in the Netherlands last week following the commission conference.
“The U.S. delegation made substantial headway in resolving some of the obstacles faced by American lawyers in securing service of process and evidence abroad,” Hendrix said. “For instance, even in common law countries, such as England, requests from U.S. lawyers for evidence or testimony are often termed too broad – ‘fishing expeditions’ – and rejected. The final report will likely indicate that this not a legitimate interpretation of the evidence treaty.”
The Hague Conference is an inter-governmental organization composed of 62 member states that drafts multilateral treaties relating to private international law. The Special Commission of the Hague Conference seeks to harmonize the interpretation of the Hague treaties among the various member states. Courts routinely cite Commission reports as persuasive authority.
Hendrix, who chairs the International Litigation Committee of the ABA’s International Section, was designated by the State Department as a “private sector advisor” to the commission delegation. Other countries were represented by an assortment of officials from their justice and foreign ministries and by international litigation experts from the private sector.
The Special Commission, which met in The Hague from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5, is charged with making recommendations to improve the practical operation of the Hague treaties that govern cooperation between nations in matters of cross-border service of process and evidence gathering. The last such Special Commission was convened in 1989.
Among other topics, the commission considered service of process by electronic mail or postal channels, objections by certain foreign countries to various aspects of American-style discovery practices, depositions by video-tape or video-link, refusals by certain countries to serve complaints in American lawsuits due to punitive damage claims that are perceived to be “excessive,” and numerous other issues that have arisen in the implementation of the treaties.
For more information on the Hague Conference or on the Special Commission, visit www.hcch.net.
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