APPLICABLE TREATIES OR OTHER AGREEMENTS
Note: On December 31, 1992, at midnight, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist and was succeeded by two separate and independent states, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The status of bilateral agreements between the United States and Czechoslovakia is under review. In accordance with Article 34(1) of the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties, the U.S. view is that when a country which is a party to a multilateral treaty or convention has dissolved, the successor state(s) inherit the treaty obligations of the former government, consistent with Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties. However, as a practical matter, the custom is for depositaries to expect a notice of succession to confirm that the new entity is performing its treaty obligations.
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 21 UST 77; 596 UNTS 261; TIAS 6820 (Article 5);
U.S. – Czech Bilateral Consular Convention with agreed memorandum and related notes. Entered into force November 6, 1987; TIAS 11083;
Hague Convention on Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, 20 UST 361;
Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters, 23 UST 2555;
U.S. – Czech Extradition Treaty, signed July 2, 1925, 6 Bevans 1247; Supplementary Extradition Treaty, signed April 29, 1935, 6 Bevans 1283.
Note: On January 28, 1993, the Czech Republic declared itself to be bound by the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters – including reservations and declarations made by Czechoslovakia, which acceded to the Convention February 6, 1975, – as of January 1, 1993, date of the division of Czechoslovakia.
The taking of depositions of willing witnesses in the Czech Republic is governed by Article 5(f) and 5(j) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (to which the Czech Republic and the United States are parties; the U.S.-Czech Bilateral Consular Convention and, in civil and commercial matters, the Hague Evidence Convention; see also 22 U.S.C. 4215; 22 USC 4221; 18 U.S.C. App. Fed. R. Civ. P., Rules15 and 17; 28 U.S.C. Fed. R.Civ. P., Rules 28-31; 22 CFR 92.55 – 92.66 (general authority)
Voluntary depositions may be conducted in the Czech Republic regardless of the nationality of the witness, provided no compulsion is used. The witnesses may refuse to take an oath or refrain from answering any or all questions. Oral depositions or depositions on written questions may be taken by U.S. consular officers or by private attorneys from the U.S. or the Czech Republic at the U.S. Embassy or at another location such as a hotel or office, either on notice or pursuant to a commission (22 U.S.C. 4215; 4221; 18 U.S.C., Appendix, Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules 15 and 17; 28 U.S.C., Appendix, Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 28-31; 22 CFR 92.55 – 92.66 (general authority).
Czech Republic Process Service
ARRANGING FOR CONSULAR ASSISTANCE:
Consult the State Department’s general flyer, Obtaining Evidence Abroad for a checklist of information inquirers will need to provide to the U.S. embassy or consulate to arrange consular depositions. If the services of a U.S. consular officer are required to administer an oath to the witness, interpreter and stenographer, such arrangements must be made in advance with the U.S. embassy directly. Contact the U.S. Embassy in Prague to schedule a deposition of willing witnesses directly on U.S. consular premises, to arrange the participation of a consular officer to administer oaths off-site, or to obtain information about court reporters, stenographers or interpreters.
PARTICIPATION BY LOCAL, STATE OR U.S. GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS:
Local, State or U.S. Government officials must have formal U.S. Embassy and Host Country clearance before traveling to a foreign country to conduct informal interviews related to judicial assistance matters or depositions. If participation of such officials is envisioned, they should contact the Europe and Canada Division of the Office of American Citizens Services which will transmit the request for host country clearance to the U.S. Embassy in Prague for transmittal to the Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic. Police clearance does not constitute formal host country clearance.
COMPULSION OF EVIDENCE (TESTIMONY, DOCUMENTS, ETC.) :
CIVIL AND COMMERCIAL MATTERS:
If compulsion of evidence is required, in civil, commercial, and some administrative cases (considered by foreign Central Authority on a case by case basis) the Hague Evidence Convention provides a “Model Letter of Request” which should be transmitted, in duplicate, directly from the court in the United States seeking assistance to the Czech Central Authority. In cases not governed by the Hague Convention, letters rogatory may be used. Consult our general flyer, Preparation of Letters Rogatory . See note below regarding criminal cases.
CZECH REPUBLIC CENTRAL AUTHORITY:
The Czech Central Authority for requests under the Hague Evidence Convention is the Ministerstvo Spravedlnosti Ceske Republicky, The ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic, 128 10 Praha 2, Vysehradska 16 Prague, Czech Republic. Under the Hague Evidence Convention, the requesting court in the United States transmits the model letter of request, and accompanying documents, in duplicate, directly to the foreign central authority.
All documents must be translated into Czech and submitted in duplicate.
TRANSMITTAL OF A REQUEST:
The letter of request is sent directly from the American court to the Czech Central Authority for the Convention.
Compulsion of evidence in criminal matters is obtained in the Czech Republic pursuant to a letter rogatory. A letter rogatory is a request from a court in the U.S. addressed “to the Appropriate Judicial Authority” of the foreign country.
Any letter rogatory intended for use in the Czech Republic should include the following:
— an offer of reciprocal assistance;
— a statement expressing willingness to reimburse the Czech judicial authorities for costs incurred in execution of the letter rogatory;
— the seal of the court and signature of the judge;
The letter rogatory must be transmitted by the court in the U.S. from which it originates or by attorneys(s) to this office for transmittal to the U.S. Embassy in Prague. The Embassy will forward the request via diplomatic note to the Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic which will refer the matter to the Ministry of Justice which will assign it to a court in the Czech Republic for execution. Requesting counsel should be aware that when letters rogatory are executed by foreign courts which compel the appearance of a witness to answer written interrogatories, the evidence is taken in acccordance with the rules of the foreign court. In most cases an American attorney will not be permitted to participate in such a proceeding. Occasionally a foreign attorney may be permitted to attend such a proceeding and even to put forth additional questions to the witness. Not all foreign countries utilize the services of court reporters or routinely provide verbatim transcripts. Sometimes the presiding judge will dictate his recollection of the witness”s responses to his secretary. Generally letters rogatory worldwide, including those sent to the United States, take from six months to a year to execute.
Letters rogatory and any accompanying documents must be accompanied by a Czech translation in duplicate.
The Czech Republic does not require authentication of letters rogatory by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in the United States.
U.S. CONSULAR FEES :
Effective June 1, 2002, there is a $650.00 consular fee for processing letters rogatory (See Federal Register, May 16, 2002, Volume 67, Number 95, Rules and Regulations, Pages 34831-34838; 22 CFR 22.1, item 51). Counsel are requested to submit a certified bank check in the amount of $650.00 payable to the U.S. Embassy Prague). Corporate or personal checks are not acceptable. Foreign authorities may also charge a fee. Counsel will be notified by the U.S. embassy and/or the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management in the Department of State if the Embassy is advised by foreign authorities of any applicable local fees. There is no consular fee for letters rogatory on behalf of federal, state or local government officials. (See 22 CFR 22.1, item 53). If the letter rogatory requests compulsion of evidence from more than one witness or service of process on more than one person, multiple fees may be charged if more than one foreign court is required to execute the request due to multiple jurisdictions.
REQUESTS FROM STATE OR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS :
If the service is on behalf of the federal, state or local government, there is no fee (22 CFR 22.1, item 58(a)/ (c).If the letter rogatory is being transmitted at the request of a state or federal official no U.S. consular fee will be charged. However, local authorities in the foreign country may impose fees of their own which must be paid by the state or federal authority in the United States requesting the judicial assistance. You will be contacted if a federal appropriation number and fund code or remittance a check for foreign fees owed by state or local governments in the U.S. are necessary.
SERVICE OF PROCESS
Note: On January 28, 1993, the Czech Republic declared itself to be bound by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters – including reservations and declarations made by Czechoslovakia, which acceded to the Convention February 6, 1975 – as of January 1, 1993, date of the division of Czechoslovakia.
The Hague Service Convention (20 U.S.T. 361, T.I.A.S. 6638; 28 U.S.C.A. (Appendix following Rule 4 FRCvP); 16 I.L.M. 1339 (1977) provides for service by international registered mail, by agent and by formal request to the foreign central authority. (See Rule 4(f)(1) F.R.Cv. P.) Service can be effected in the Czech Republic under the Convention through the Czech Central Authority. A request for service by the Central Authority can be made by an attorney by submitting the documents to be served under cover of form USM-94, in duplicate to the foreign central authority.
CZECH CENTRAL AUTHORITY:
Ministerstvo Spravedlnosti Ceske Republicky, The ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic, 128 10 Praha 2, Vysehradska 16 Prague, Czech Republic.
The summons, complaint and any other documents to be served must be translated into Czech and submitted in duplicate.
There are generally no costs incurred in connection with service through the central authority under the Convention.
METHODS OF SERVICE:
Article 5(b) – Personal Service: If personal service is required, strike out methods (a) and (c) on the Request for Service form (USM-94) and indicate method (b) on the form, noting that the documents should be served personally upon the person or company to be served.
TRANSMITTING THE COMPLETED REQUEST:
The completed request form and documents to be served, (two copies of each), should be mailed by requesting counsel as the “applicant” directly to the foreign Central Authority as provided by Article 3 of the Convention.
The Czech Republic made specific reservations objecting to service through postal channels.
LISTS OF FOREIGN ATTORNEYS :
Lists of foreign attorneys willing to represent U.S. citizens have been prepared by the American Embassy in the Czech Republic. Copies may be obtained from the Department of State, Office of American Citizen Services.
AUTHENTICATION OF DOCUMENTS :
The Czech Republic is a party to the Hague Legalization Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents. The Convention entered into force for the Czech Republic on March 16, 1999. The Czech Republic designated the following authorities competent to issue the apostille certificate to authenticate documents.
1. the Ministry of Justice, International Department (certificates issued by authorities of justice, including certificates issued or certified by notaries):
120 00 Praha 2
Phone: (4202) 2179-9170
2. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consular Department (documents issued by authorities of State Administration or by the other ones)
Hradcanske nam. 5
110 00 Praha 1
Phone: (4202) 2418-2188
U.S. EMBASSY LOCATION:
U.S. Embassy, Consular Section, American Citizens Services, (Int”l) Trziste 15, 11801 Prague 1, Czech Republic or APO AE 09213-1330; tel: 011-420-2-5732-0663; fax: 011-420-2-5732-0920
TREATY DATABASES ON THE INTERNET:
See the following
United Nations (UN):
Council of Europe (COE) under Texts/Treaties
Organization of American States (OAS): under Documents/Treaties and Conventions.
Should you have further questions about the procedures not addressed in this material, please contact the Office of American Citizens Services, Europe and Canada Division, Department of State, 2201 C Street, N.W., Room 4817, Washington, D.C. 20520, tel: 202-647-5226.
Czech Republic Process Service