SCOTUS on the Hague Convention


Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale v. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa,482 US 522 (1987) was a decision by the United States Supreme Court in which it ruled on the extent to which federal courts must apply the Hague Convention when parties file interrogatories, requests for admissions, production requests on foreign parties over which the courts have jurisdiction. The court rejected the idea that the Convention should be the exclusive vehicle for cross border discovery, and denied the petitioners' argument that the Convention's procedures have to be the first resort whenever discovery is requested from a foreign party. Furthermore the Court ruled that the Convention did not preclude the jurisdiction that the Court would otherwise have to obtain the production of evidence located in another country.

The Supreme Court's decision noted production can be obtained in violation of foreign blocking statutes designed to prevent the transfer of commercially valuable information. The court endorsed a test listed in the Restatement of Foreign Relations Law to analyze whether or not international discovery can be conducted in violation of a foreign blocking statute:

"(1) the importance to the . . . litigation of the documents or other information requested; "(2) the degree of specificity of the request; "(3) whether the information originated in the United States; "(4) the availability of alternative means of securing the information; and "(5) the extent to which noncompliance with the request would undermine important interests of the United States, or compliance with the request would undermine important interests of the state where the information is located."


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