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A Word to the Worldwide: Is the Global Law Firm’s US Office the New ‘Discovery Central’? | Morgan Lewis

Suppose Ivan and Dmitri are litigating a agreement dispute in a Russian courtroom. Fred, a US resident, has a applicable email. 28 USC Portion 1782(a) exposes him to discovery in help of the Russian continuing. A federal court docket may well grant the software of Ivan (or Dmitri or the Russian court docket) to seek discovery of Fred’s email from Fred. Now suppose that as an alternative of Fred, Biglaw LLP has the memorandum. Due to the fact Biglaw has a New York business, it might be subject matter to an buy right here for generation.

So much, so unsurprising. But now suppose the email is by itself overseas. Just previous 7 days another federal court docket joined the consensus that the statute reaches that as well.

This pattern was foreseen—and lamented. “Section 1782 ought to not be made use of to interfere with the typical courtroom procedures in a further country,” scholar Hans Smit warned a long time in the past. “[I]f Area 1782 could be employed for this goal, American courts would turn out to be clearing homes for requests for information and facts from courts and litigants all above the earth in lookup of evidence to be obtained all above the globe.” (American Guidance to Litigation in Foreign and Global Tribunals: Portion 1782 of Title 28 of the U.S.C. Revisited, 25 SYRACUSE J. INT’L L. & COM. 1, 11 (1998))

The professor was prescient. In 2019, a court docket noticed that the statute can be made use of to have to have a US-centered business with an international presence to make appropriate components from a overseas office environment. In Re: Software of Hulley Enterprises Ltd. et al., no. 1:18-mc-00435, slip op. (S.D.N.Y. 2019). (The case associated White & Case. The court declined the application as a discretionary issue, concluding that to order output would elevate in ideal pressure with the law of the overseas jurisdiction—Russia—where the data resided.)

This month one more courtroom went even more, in Ex Parte Software of Iraq, no. 19-175 (E.D.Pa. Nov. 5, 2021). Judge R. Barclay Surrick ordered Dechert’s US business to produce e-mails that the law organization argued have been client-privileged. The e-mails concerned business professionals in the United Kingdom and ended up created there whilst representing Iraqi nationals in an archetypically community matter: the acquisition of British isles genuine estate. Both of those Dechert and plaintiff’s counsel are legislation corporations whose international footprint is centered in the United States. Aside from the actuality that a computer terminal in Philadelphia could presumably speak to a server (location unspecified) and entry the e mail, it is hard to see any US speak to. Why Uk courts ended up not the noticeable (and only?) locus for this discovery dispute was not talked over.

The impression mainly addresses the privilege claim, implementing US privilege law to solve the dispute. It breaks no new ground in the domestic law of privilege but it does provide notice—particularly on the international law firm—that Professor Smit was on to one thing. Cross-border disputes abound. Segment 1782 has come to be a acquainted device in the foreign litigant’s toolbox, even wherever the witnesses and documents are by themselves abroad. And what much more fertile source than the world-wide firm with a US workplace?

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