Interested in covering international depositions? Here are 10 things you need to know

By Ian Hardy

I started covering international depositions as a legal videographer more than seventeen years ago. During the time I was living in Paris, France, and I began by working on international depositions as a young legal videographer. I have had the honor of working with some great court reporters and videographers in the business, covering U.S. depositions in every major country around the world. Now, back in the U.S., I continue covering depositions worldwide through my court reporting firm.

If you’re interested in covering international depositions as a reporter or videographer, I say go for it! It can be a fun and lucrative way to explore the world.

Here are ten useful rules of thumb for working U.S. depositions abroad:

  1. The two busiest regions for international depositions are Europe and Asia. These two places do the most business with the United States, and consequently, they often have witnesses that need to be deposed in American litigation.
  2. If the country is not English-speaking and doesn’t have indigenous court reporters, it’s more likely you’ll be asked to go there. Some countries, like England and Canada, already have their own court reporters who can cover depositions.
  3. Law firms looking for international reporters always ask for two things: 1) A reporter who will get the job done without fail, and 2) Low or no travel costs.
  4. Being based abroad is a huge advantage because you’ll save your clients money on travel. If you have dual nationality or a way to be based abroad in a popular deposition region, take advantage of it. You’ll get more work.
  5. By far the majority of international depos involve willing witnesses, because compelling unwilling witnesses to appear is very difficult for attorneys to accomplish in the international context.
  6. Some countries have special rules for administering the oath, and U.S. notary powers do not extend outside of the United States. In general, the best approach for swearing in your witness in a foreign country is to ask counsel for both sides to stipulate on the record that you, the court reporter, can administer the oath.
  7. If a client asks you to cover a deposition in a foreign country, be sure to educate yourself about the time difference, visa requirements, deposition restrictions (if any), security issues, and electrical system of the country before saying you can cover it for sure.
  8. Three major countries that have restrictions on the taking of depositions are China, Germany, and Japan. China does not allow depositions, while Germany and Japan require that all depositions be taken on the grounds of the U.S. consulate.
  9. Always take direct flights, whenever possible, to minimize the chances of bags being lost or missed connections.
  10. Sometimes international depositions can be taken remotely, via videoconference or telephone; be sure to ask the attorneys if they are interested in pursuing this option in situations where travel is prohibitively expensive or difficult.

Ian Hardy is a president of Optimus Juris, in international agency specialized in deposition services for U.S. legal matters abroad. More information on global depositions for NCRA member is available at http://www.optimajuris.com/NCRA/. Hardy can be reached at ihardy@optimajuris.com.