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In this episode of Law, disrupted, John is joined by Lucas Bento, Of Counsel in Quinn Emanuel’s New York office. Bento is the author of The Globalization of Discovery: The Law and Practice under 28 U.S.C § 1782 (Section 1782), the first and only book to discuss the law pertaining to that Section. John and Lucas discuss how, under Section 1782,  parties to proceedings outside of the US can invoke discovery procedures inside the US in aid of those foreign proceedings. John notes how many foreign lawyers he talks to complain about the relatively burdensome US discovery system. Yet they also envy it, especially if you’re a plaintiff.  US law has a procedure to achieve US-style discovery of evidence or witnesses located in the US – Section 1782 of Title 28 of the United States Code.

The conversation begins by outlining what exactly Section 1782 is. Lucas notes it’s a federal statute that allows a party to a foreign proceeding to gain access to US discovery procedures and evidence (including documents and depositions) for use in the foreign proceeding. Historically, one would need to use letters rogatory or go through the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence.  But Section 1782 provides many advantages over those tools.  For example, under the Hague Convention, US-style depositions are not available; however, under Section 1782, if there is a witness subject to the jurisdiction of the US courts, they could be served with a subpoena and get a complete US-style deposition. Lucas highlights how powerful a tool §1782 can be, working as a global evidentiary X-ray machine.

John asks how one invokes §1782, with Lucas highlighting the application process and the necessary requirements that must be met in order for the application to be processed successfully. If the court authorizes the application, the discovery target can be subpoenaed immediately, making it a very contentious issue. They dive deep into the logistics and Intel discretionary factors of Section 1782 and how these can impact the success of an application. 

John notes how US discovery is not loved around the world – with foreign jurisdictions hostile to the US’s broad processes. In discussing the types of foreign proceedings that qualify under Section 1782, Lucas states that you can obtain US-style discovery as long as the foreign proceeding is pending or within reasonable contemplation – something you can’t typically do in the US. However, there are some limitations and boundaries in place, such as the fact that people can’t use §1782 to fish around and see if someone has a claim in the first place, or use it for private arbitrations. 

The conversation moves on to discuss what the future of the law surrounding Section 1782 will look like in the future. Lucas believes its trajectory is on the assent, with more applications being made, which only gives the courts more issues to unpack and define. He argues that Section 1782 is now becoming a routine consideration across the entire legal industry, noting that the statute can be a bastion of truth in a world struggling with fake news and widespread disinformation. The use of legal tools, such as Section 1782, to discover facts can be a means to achieve fairer and more just decisions around the world.

Finally, John and Lucas discuss how foreign litigants must act fast and hire qualified US counsel to assist in the use of Section 1782. Lucas notes how relevance is important, although it is still a very broad term in general, and explains why the timing of the application is crucial.

Published: Sep 29 2022

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