The United States legal system has traditionally permitted significantly more extensive pretrial discovery than other countries’ legal systems have. So what do you do if you’re engaged in litigation in a foreign country, and you want information you couldn’t obtain under their laws? Why, you simply get the U.S. courts to order those who have the information to provide it via American discovery rules, as this China Law Blog post by Dan Harris explains:
“In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the seminal decision interpreting §1782, construing the language liberally in favor of allowing discovery. Among other things, it rejected the notion that §1782 was limited to the discovery of evidence that could be discovered in a foreign jurisdiction if the evidence was located there. Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 542 U.S. 241 (2004).
Ponder this for just a moment: The Supreme Court ruled that one could engage in U.S. discovery to gather information for a foreign litigation that one would not be allowed to gather in that foreign litigation.
And as everyone knows, if discovery is good, then more discovery is better, so, as Harris explains, the U.S. courts “tend to ‘interpret §1782 liberally in favor of permitting discovery in aid of foreign litigation.'” He gives examples, including this recent case:
In a further example of this trend, a district court in New York ordered McKinsey Company, the global consulting firm, to produce documents requested by a German litigant in aid of a lawsuit in Munich. In re Gemeinschaftspraxis Dr. Med. Schottforf, 2006 WL 3844464 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 29, 2006). McKinsey argued §1782 did not apply because the documents were located outside of the United States. The district court disagreed, holding “Section 1782 requires only that the party from whom discovery is sought be ‘found’ here; not that the documents be found here.” Id. at 5. The court also rejected the argument that the production would be unduly burdensome because the documents would have to be translated from German into English so they could be reviewed by McKinsey’s non-German-speaking U.S. counsel.
In other words, Germans engaged in a lawsuit in Germany can obtain an order from a U.S. court to require an American company to turn over documents that aren’t even located in the United States, and that they couldn’t obtain from the German courts in which they’re actually litigating. That seems perfectly reasonable.
(Hat Tip: Ron Coleman, my co-blogger from Likelihood of Success.)