The United States and Honduras do not have a treaty relationship concerning service of documents or obtaining evidence. While both countries are parties to the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory, the United States only recognizes a treaty relationship limited to service of process under that Convention with countries that are also party to the Additional Protocol to that Convention. Honduras is not a party to the Additional Protocol. Judicial assistance is governed generally by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to which the United States and Honduras are parties. There are a variety of methods of effecting service of process. Procedures are not limited to letters rogatory. Voluntary depositions of U.S. citizens only can be taken on notice or pursuant to a commission and need not be taken on U.S. consular premises; although a U.S. consular seal is generally required in order for the proceeding to be admissible in the United States. Depositions of non-U.S. citizens must be taken by letters rogatory. Compulsion of evidence can be obtained pursuant to a letter rogatory. There is no treaty in force on enforcement of judgments.
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Is enforcement of a judgment in the foreign country foreseen at any time in the future? If so, it may be advisable to consult with local foreign counsel to ascertain how to proceed. In countries whose laws do not provide for other methods of service, letters rogatory may be the only method of service when enforcement of a judgement is anticipated.
Applicability of International Treaty or Convention
Honduras is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters. Although Honduras is a party to the Inter-American Convention on letters rogatory, it is not a party to the Additional Protocol to that Convention. The United States has a treaty relationship under that Convention only with states that are parties to both the Convention and the Additional Protocol.
Prohibition Against Service By U.S. Consular Officers
United States Foreign Service officers are prohibited by federal regulation (22CFR 92.85) from serving process on behalf of private litigants or appointing others to do so, State law notwithstanding.
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Service by Mail
Non-compulsory service (not subpoenas) generally may be attempted by international registered mail, return receipt. But see Federal Trade Commission v. Compagnie de Saint-Gobain-Pont-a-Mousson, 636 F. 2d 1300 (D.C. Cir. 1980). Registered mail, return receipt requested may be sent to most countries in the world. To ascertain whether such mail service exists in a foreign state, see publication 42 of the United States Postal Service, Transmittal Letter 85, October 16, 1978 (of succeeding publication).
Service by Agent
For personal service, it is generally necessary to retain the services of a local attorney in the foreign country who can either effect service, or arrange for some other person to effect service. The attorney (or his/her agent) can execute an affidavit of service before a local notary or at the American Embassy. The fee for notarization by a U.S. Consular officer is $55.00. Lists of foreign attorneys are available from the U.S. Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services and directly from the American Embassy.
Service by Letter Rogatory
Service may be requested by a court in the United States in the form of a formal request to the appropriate judicial authority of the foreign country pursuant to a letter rogatory. The letter rogatory is transmitted by the Department of State to the U.S. Embassy. The Embassy transmits the request to the Foreign Ministry which forwards the request to the Ministry of Justice. Eventually the case is assigned to an appropriate court in the foreign country which will arrange for service of process. The procedure generally takes from six months to a year to accomplish. A general information flyer about preparation of letters rogatory is available from the Department of State, office of American Citizens Services. See 28 U.S.C. 1696; 28 USC 1781 (a)(2); Rule 4(i)(1)(B), Fed. R. Civ P.; Rule 28(b), Fed R. Civ. P.; Article 5(j), Vienna Convention on consular Relations, [21 UST 77, TIAS 6820, 596 UNTS 261]; 22 CFR 92.54, 92.66.
Applicability of International Treaty or Convention
Honduras is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters.
The taking of depositions of willing witnesses and compulsion of evidence from unwilling witnesses pursuant to a letter rogatory is governed by Article 5(f) (voluntary depositions) and 5(j) (letters rogatory) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to which the United States and Honduras are Parties and 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 of US. Consular officers in judicial assistance matters).
Honduras permits the taking of voluntary depositions of U.S. citizens on notice of pursuant or pursuant to a commission [28 U.S.C. App. Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 28(b)(2)]. American attorneys may travel to Honduras to participate in depositions either on U.S. consular premises or at other locations. Voluntary depositions of non-U.S. citizens can only be taken pursuant to a letter rogatory. Contact the U.S. Embassy directly to make arrangements to schedule the availability of U.S. consular premises. You must also contact the U.S. Embassy in advance if the deposition is to be taken outside consular premises to ensure the availability of a U.S. consular officer to administer oaths to the witness(es), stenographer, and/or interpreter at a location other than the U.S. Embassy. Depositions can also be taken on written interrogatories and cross interrogatories [28 USC Fed.R. Civ. P. Rule 31]. A general information flyer on obtaining evidence abroad, providing more detailed information about arranging depositions at U.S. embassies is available from the Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services.
U.S. Federal, State or Local Government Participants
If a U.S., State or local Government official is to participate in a deposition, special host country clearance must be obtained for the travel. Such Government officials should contact the Office of American Citizens Services, Department of State, (202) 647-5226, fax (202) 647-2835 to initiate the process of obtaining the host country clearance. A copy of the host country clearance questionnaire will be faxed to you. It will also be available via our Internet home page and autofax service (see instructions below). See also U.S. Attorney’s Manual (USAM) Title 9, Sections 2.151 and 13.534, and Title 3, Section 3.730.
Compulsion of Evidence
If the witness is not willing to be deposed voluntarily, and compulsion is required, it will be necessary to request the cooperation of the foreign judicial authorities pursuant to a letter rogatory. See Rule 28(b), Fed. R. Civ. P.; 4 Moore”s Federal Practice 28.05-28.8 (2d ed. 1950); Ristau, International Judicial Assistance (Civil and Commercial), Vol. I, 3-36 et seq., International Law Institute, 1984; Article 5(j) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations . The questions will be put to the witness by a foreign judge in a foreign court. It is not generally possible for an American attorney to participate in the proceedings, although this can be requested in the letter rogatory. Participation of local foreign counsel may also be request, as an alternative. A general information flyer on the preparation of letters rogatory is available from the Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services.
Compulsion of Documents and Physical Evidence
As in the taking of depositions United States consular officials have no authority to compel the production of any document or other article. However, production of documents and other physical evidence may be compelled through the foreign courts by letters rogatory.
Authentication and Translation Requirements
Honduras is not a party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. Letters rogatory must be authenticated by the Honduran Embassy or Consulate in the United States using the chain authentication procedure. If the local Honduran Consulate is able to authenticate the seal of the American court on the letter rogatory, no further authentication is required. If not, see the general letter rogatory information flyer for details about how to have the documents authenticated, using the chain of certification procedure. All documents must be translated into Spanish.
U.S. Consular Fees
There is a $650.00 fee for consular services related to letters rogatory (see 22 CFR 22.1, item 67). The U.S. fee and any local (foreign) fees will be deducted from the $650.00 deposit check (bank or firm check/no personal checks) payable to U.S. Embassy 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).
U.S. Embassy Location
U.S. Embassy, Consular Section, American Citizens Services, Avenida La Paz, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, tel: 011-504-238-5114 ext. 4081, fax. 011-504-238-4357, Internet e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
List of Foreign Attorneys
Lists of foreign attorneys willing to represent U.S. citizens have been prepared by the U.S. Embassy and may be obtained from the Department of State, Office of American Citizen Services or directly from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
The Office of American Citizens Services has available general information flyers on international judicial assistance. These topics include country-specific information about service of process and obtaining evidence abroad.
For additional information, contact the appropriate geographic division of the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management at telephone (202) 647-5226.
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