Letter rogatory

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A letter rogatory or letter of request is a formal request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance. The most common remedies sought by letters rogatory are service of process and taking of evidence.

Service of process

Courts may serve documents only to individuals within the court's jurisdiction. One exception to this rule is state that invoke universal jurisdiction, granting their courts ubiquitous domain. Therefore a person seeking to take an action against a person in another country will need to seek assistance from the judicial authorities in the other country. This is of course assuming the court in his own country has jurisdiction to hear the case matter. As a hypothetical example, Alice in the United States wishes to sue Roberto in Argentina. Alice issues her summons in a U.S. court, and must then petition a court in Argentina by means of a letter rogatory to serve the process on Roberto.

The use of letters rogatory for purposes of service of process to initiate court action is now largely confined to the Americas. As between countries in Europe, Asia, and North America, service of process is effected without resort to letters rogatory, under the provisions of the Hague Service Convention.

Taking of evidence

Another reason why a court may require assistance from a foreign court is to obtain evidence from a witness. This evidence may be to answer questions relevant to the determination of an issue of fact, or for disclosure of...
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