International Legal Matters Through Letter Rogatory
Rogatory letters are a formal request from the court in one country, to be executed in the court of another. For instance, a court order may be obtained in Canada or the US and be carried out in Mexico. The letter rogatory may be used for civil or commercial matters.
One example of the use of a letter rogatory would be a divorcing couple with shared property in Mexico; the wife lives in Canada, and the husband lives in Mexico on their Mexican property. In the case where the husband, in Mexico, is not cooperating with the split of assets including the property, he will be served with a letter rogatory initiated by a Canadian lawyer and passed to a Mexican lawyer in order to take legal action against the him.
Essentially the court in one country requests assistance from the court in another country to perform an act such as:
- The service of process, subpoenas or other legal documents
- Collection of evidence in a foreign country
- The enforcement of foreign judgments
Mexico is a member of the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and has a defined set of rules for presenting letters rogatory in both Mexican federal and state courts, by the Mexican Federal Code of Civil Procedure.
The purpose of rogatory letters is the service of process on a Mexican party ordering them to appear in a foreign court. Once the letter rogatory is issued by a foreign judge, the letter rogatory is not sent directly to the Mexican court, it must first pass through the Secretary of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City. There the letter rogatory is translated, accompanied by written instructions and authorization of Mexican lawyers. Once this is complete, they will issue an official letter in order to send this documentation to the corresponding court in Mexico.
All letters rogatory are processed through the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and then forwarded on to the State Court where they request judicial assistance.
It is highly recommended that the foreign party hire a lawyer in Mexico to represent them during this procedure, as it is much more efficient since neither the foreign court nor the foreign party will have the knowledge or experience to be able to meet the requirements of the Mexican court.
Since the Mexican courts do not recognize service by international registered mail or agent, service of process by letters rogatory is the preferred procedure if a judgment in a Mexican court is expected.
Requirements of the Rogatory Letter
- The letter must be presented on the appropriate Inter-American Convention Letters Rogatory form.
- The defendant must be served with a summons and the original complaint, supporting documents and other exhibits or rulings.
- Detailed information that identifies the entity who is suing, the time limits for the defendant to act upon the suit, and the consequences if they fail to act.
- They must not have been previously denied due process by the court.
- No other legal matters are pending between the two parties regarding the same issue.
- The judgment does not involve an in rem jurisdiction which refers to the power of a court to an item of real or personal property.
- The court of the country where the judgment was initiated recognizes and enforces foreign judgments.
- The letter must be duly notarized in the foreign jurisdiction.
- Countries belonging to the Hague Convention must have the letter duly apostilled.
- Documents must be translated by an official Mexican translator.
- Include the description of the nature of the foreign action.
- Confirm the Mexican state which is being requested by the foreign court.
- Collect evidence in anticipation of litigation in foreign legislation.
The letter will not be accepted if the issue has been adjudged final and conclusive, and recognition and enforcement are not contrary to the public policy of Mexico law.
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