APPLICABLE TREATIES OR OTHER AGREEMENTS
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 21 UST 77; 596 UNTS 261; TIAS 6820 (Article 5);
U.S. – U.K. Bilateral Consular Convention, signed June 6, 1951, 3 UST 3426; 165 UNTS 121; TIAS 2494;
Agreement Continuing in Force Between the United States and Fiji the U.S. – U.K. Consular Convention of 1951. Exchange of notes at Suva and Washington October 16 and December 12, 1972, 23 UST 3770; TIAS 7525
Bilateral and Multilateral Judicial Assistance Treaties and Conventions:
Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents, 33 UST 883; 527 UNTS 189; TIAS 10072
U.S. – U.K. Extradition Treaty, signed December 22, 1931; 12 Bevans 482
Agreement Continuing in Force Between the United States and Fiji the U.S. – U.K. Extradition Treaty of December 22, 1931. Exchange of notes at Suva and Washington July 14, 1972 and August 17, 1973; 24 UST 1965; TIAS 7707
U.S. Embassy in Fiji:
ATTN: Consular Section, American Citizen Services
31 Loftus St.
P.O. Box 218
The taking of depositions of willing witnesses in Fiji is governed by:
Article 5(f) and 5(j) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (to which Fiji and the United States are parties);
U.S. – U.K. Consular Convention of 1951 (which continues in force between the U.S. and Fiji)
22 U.S.C. 4215; 22 USC 4221; 18 U.S.C. App. Fed. R. Civ. P., Rules 15 and 17; 28 U.S.C. Fed. R.Civ. P., Rules 28-31; 22 CFR 92.55 – 92.66 (general authority)
Depositions of willing witnesses may be conducted in Fiji. The witnesses may refuse to take an oath or refrain from answering any or all questions. No compulsory measure, either direct or indirect is allowed. Such depositions may be taken by U.S. consular officers at the U.S. Embassy or by private attorneys from the U.S. or Fiji 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)
Depositions may take place on U.S. consular premises or at other locations such as offices or hotels. 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 Fiji 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.
Arranging for U.S. Consular Assistance In Depositions:
The Office of American Citizen Services information flyer entitled “Obtaining Evidence Abroad” includes step-by-step instructions for what information you should fax to U.S. consular officers at the American Embassy in Fiji to arrange for voluntary depositions.
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 East Asia and Pacific Division of the Office of American Citizens Services which will transmit the request for host country clearance to the U.S. Embassy in Suva for transmittal to the Foreign Ministry of Fiji. Police clearance does not constitute formal host country clearance.
Compulsion of Evidence (Testimony, Documents, Other):
Fiji is not a party to the Hague Evidence Convention. If compulsion of evidence is required, the only method of obtaining the evidence is to prepare a letter rogatory, following the instructions in the Office of American Citizens Services information flyer entitled “Preparation of Letters Rogatory”. The request is executed by Fijian authorities under Order 39, rule 11 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Fiji. 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 Suva. The Embassy will forward the request via diplomatic note to the Foreign Ministry of Fiji which will refer the matter to the Ministry of Justice which will assign it to a court in Fiji for execution.
A letter rogatory is a request from a court in the U.S. addressed “to the Appropriate Judicial Authority” of the foreign country. 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 accordance 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. See Ristau, International Judicial Assistance (Civil and Commercial) (1990), Ch. 3, Sections 3-3-1/3-3-5, pp. 94-103.
English is the official language of Fiji, therefore, no translation of letters rogatory and accompanying documents is required.
There is a $455.00 fee for consular services related to letters rogatory (Fees effective February 1, 1998. See Federal Register, Public Notice 2653, December 1, 1997, Volume 62, Number 230, page 63478-63485.) The U.S. fee and any local (foreign) fees will be deducted from the $500.00 deposit check (bank or firm check/no personal checks) payable to American Embassy Suva which should accompany the letters rogatory and cover letter (including the complete mailing address of the court in the U.S. to which the executed request should be returned).
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
22 CFR 92.85 prohibits U.S. consular officers from serving process abroad.
28 U.S.C. 1783 authorizes U.S. consular officers to service subpoenas on U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens abroad. See also 22 CFR 92.86.
28 U.S.C. 1696; 28 U.S.C. 1781 (transmittal of letters rogatory)
Rules of the Supreme Court of Fiji, Order 69, Rule 2
Service of process can be effected in Fiji in a variety of ways:
International registered mail , return receipt requested.
Fiji Process Service
Personal service by agent can be accomplished by retaining a Fijian attorney who will serve the documents and execute an affidavit of service at the U.S. embassy. There is a $55.00 fee for the U.S. consular officer”s notarial service. (Fees effective February 1, 1998. See Federal Register, Public Notice 2653, December 1, 1997, Volume 62, Number 230, page 63478-63485.) Lists of attorneys are available from the Office of American Citizens Services, see Questions below.
Letters rogatory have never been used for service of process in Fiji. The Office of American Citizen Services would be prepared to transmit such a request, but could not estimate how long it would take to execute, if at all.
Hague Service Convention:
Fiji became an independent State October 10, 1970. Prior to that time, Fiji was a dependency of the United Kingdom. Fiji has never confirmed to the Hague Conference on Private International Law or the Government of the Netherlands whether it considers the Hague Service Convention to apply to Fiji. Attorneys in the U.S. have occasionally transmitted requests for service using the Hague Service Convention forms directly to the Registrar of Fiji, together with the summons, complaint and any other documents to be served, in duplicate. It is not clear whether such requests have actually been served under the Convention. It appears that Fiji may serve such documents following Rule 2 of Order 69 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Fiji which pertain to executing letters of request from foreign courts. Such a request must be mailed directly by counsel in the U.S. to the Registrar of Fiji and cannot be mailed by the U.S. Embassy to the Registrar. The address of the Fijian authority to whom a request should be sent is: Chief Registrar of the High Court of Fiji, Government Buildings, Suva, Fiji. Following Rule 4 of the Order 69 of the Fiji Rules of the Supreme Court, upon receipt of a letter of request (Hague Service Form), accompanied by the summons bearing the seal of the court in the U.S. and signature of the judge, and the complaint and other documents to be served, the Registrar will designate the actual person in Fiji to effect service.
LISTS OF FOREIGN ATTORNEYS:
Lists of foreign attorneys willing to represent U.S. citizens have been prepared by the American Embassy in Suva. Copies may be obtained from the Department of State, Office of American Citizen Services.
AUTHENTICATION OF DOCUMENTS:
Fiji and the United States are parties to the Hague Legalization Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents . The Convention provides for an “authorized person” to affix a special authentication certificate called an “apostille” to documents making them admissible in other countries party to the Convention.
The Office of American Citizens Services has many of which are available via our Internet home page. These topics include:
Should you have further questions about the procedures not addressed in this material, please contact the Office of American Citizens Services, East Asia and Pacific Division, Department of State, 2201 C Street, N.W., SA-29, 4th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20520, 202-647-5226; fax: 202-647-2835.
Fiji Process Service