CONVENTION ON THE TAKING OF EVIDENCE ABROAD
IN CIVIL OR COMMERCIAL MATTERS
(Concluded 18 March 1970)
(Entered into force 7 October 1972)
The States signatory to the present Convention,
Desiring to facilitate the transmission and execution of Letters of
Request and to further the accommodation of
the different methods which they use for this purpose,
Desiring to improve mutual judicial co-operation in civil or commercial
Have resolved to conclude a Convention to this effect and have agreed
upon the following provisions:
CHAPTER I – LETTERS OF REQUEST
In civil or commercial matters a judicial authority of a Contracting
State may, in accordance with the provisions of the law of that State,
request the competent authority of another Contracting State, by means
of a Letter of Request, to obtain evidence, or to perform some other
A Letter shall not be used to obtain evidence which is not intended
for use in judicial proceedings, commenced or contemplated.
The expression "other judicial act" does not cover the service
of judicial documents or the issuance of any process by which judgments
or orders are executed or enforced, or orders for provisional or protective
A Contracting State shall designate a Central Authority which will undertake
to receive Letters of Request coming from a judicial authority of another
Contracting State and to transmit them to the authority competent to
execute them. Each State shall organize the Central Authority in accordance
with its own law.
Letters shall be sent to the Central Authority of the State of execution
without being transmitted through any other authority of that State.
A Letter of Request shall specifya)
the authority requesting its execution and the authority requested to
execute it, if known to the requesting authority;
b) the names and addresses of the parties to the proceedings and their
representatives, if any;
c) the nature of the proceedings for which the evidence is required,
giving all necessary information in regard thereto;
d) the evidence to be obtained or other judicial act to be performed.
Where appropriate, the Letter shall specify, inter alia –
e) the names and addresses of the persons to be examined;
f) the questions to be put to the persons to be examined or a statement
of the subject-matter about which they are to be examined;
g) the documents or other property, real or personal, to be inspected;
h) any requirement that the evidence is to be given on oath or affirmation,
and any special form to be used;
i) any special method or procedure to be followed under Article 9.
A Letter may also mention any information necessary for the application
of Article 11.
No legalization or other like formality may be required.
A Letter of Request shall be in the language of the authority requested
to execute it or be accompanied by a translation into that language.
Nevertheless, a Contracting State shall accept a Letter in either English
or French, or a translation into one of these languages, unless it has
made the reservation authorized by Article 33.
A Contracting State which has more than one official language and cannot,
for reasons of internal law, accept Letters in one of these languages
for the whole of its territory, shall, by declaration, specify the language
in which the Letter or translation thereof shall be expressed for execution
in the specified parts of its territory. In case of failure to comply
with this declaration, without justifiable excuse, the costs of translation
into the required language shall be borne by the State of origin.
A Contracting State may, by declaration, specify the language or languages
other than those referred to in the preceding paragraphs, in which a
Letter may be sent to its Central Authority.
Any translation accompanying a Letter shall be certified as correct,
either by a diplomatic officer or consular agent or by a sworn translator
or by any other person so authorized in either State.
If the Central Authority considers that the request does not comply
with the provisions of the present Convention, it shall promptly inform
the authority of the State of origin which transmitted the Letter of
Request, specifying the objections to the Letter.
If the authority to whom a Letter of Request has been transmitted is
not competent to execute it, the Letter shall be sent forthwith to the
authority in the same State which is competent to execute it in accordance
with the provisions of its own law.
The requesting authority shall, if it so desires, be informed of the
time when, and the place where, the proceedings will take place, in
order that the parties concerned, and their representatives, if any,
may be present. This information shall be sent directly to the parties
or their representatives when the authority of the State of origin so
A Contracting State may declare that members of the judicial personnel
of the requesting authority of another Contracting State may be present
at the execution of a Letter of Request. Prior authorization by the
competent authority designated by the declaring State may be required.
The judicial authority which executes a Letter of Request shall apply
its own law as to the methods and
procedures to be followed.
However, it will follow a request of the requesting authority that a
special method or procedure be followed, unless this is incompatible
with the internal law of the State of execution or is impossible of
performance by reason of its internal practice and procedure or by reason
of practical difficulties.
A Letter of Request shall be executed expeditiously.
In executing a Letter of Request the requested authority shall apply
the appropriate measures of compulsion in the instances and to the same
extent as are provided by its internal law for the execution of orders
issued by the authorities of its own country or of requests made by
parties in internal proceedings.
In the execution of a Letter of Request the person concerned may refuse
to give evidence in so far as he has a privilege or duty to refuse to
give the evidence –
a) under the law of the State of execution; or
b) under the law of the State of origin, and the privilege or duty has
been specified in the Letter, or, at the instance of the requested authority,
has been otherwise confirmed to that authority by the requesting authority.
A Contracting State may declare that, in addition, it will respect privileges
and duties existing under the law of States other than the State of
origin and the State of execution, to the extent specified in that declaration.
The execution of a Letter of Request may be refused only to the extent
a) in the State of execution the execution of the Letter does not fall
within the functions of the judiciary; or
b) the State addressed considers that its sovereignty or security would
be prejudiced thereby.
Execution may not be refused solely on the ground that under its internal
law the State of execution claims exclusive jurisdiction over the subject-matter
of the action or that its internal law would not admit a right of action
The documents establishing the execution of the Letter of Request shall
be sent by the requested authority to the requesting authority by the
same channel which was used by the latter.
In every instance where the Letter is not executed in whole or in part,
the requesting authority shall be informed immediately through the same
channel and advised of the reasons.
The execution of the Letter of Request shall not give rise to any reimbursement
of taxes or costs of any nature.
Nevertheless, the State of execution has the right to require the State
of origin to reimburse the fees paid to experts and interpreters and
the costs occasioned by the use of a special procedure requested by
the State of origin under Article 9, paragraph 2.
The requested authority whose law obliges the parties themselves to
secure evidence, and which is not able itself to execute the Letter,
may, after having obtained the consent of the requesting authority,
appoint a suitable person to do so. When seeking this consent the requested
authority shall indicate the approximate costs which would result from
this procedure. If the requesting authority gives its consent it shall
reimburse any costs incurred;
without such consent the requesting authority shall not be liable for
CHAPTER II – TAKING OF EVIDENCE BY DIPLOMATIC OFFICERS,
CONSULAR AGENTS AND COMMISSIONERS
In civil or commercial matters, a diplomatic officer or consular agent
of a Contracting State may, in the territory of another Contracting
State and within the area where he exercises his functions, take the
evidence without compulsion of nationals of a State which he represents
in aid of proceedings commenced in the courts of a State which he represents.
A Contracting State may declare that evidence may be taken by a diplomatic
officer or consular agent only if permission to that effect is given
upon application made by him or on his behalf to the appropriate authority
designated by the declaring State.
A diplomatic officer or consular agent of a Contracting State may, in
the territory of another Contracting State and within the area where
he exercises his functions, also take the evidence, without compulsion,
of nationals of the State in which he exercises his functions or of
a third State, in aid of proceedings commenced in the courts of a State
which he represents, if –
a) a competent authority designated by the State in which he exercises
his functions has given its permission either generally or in the particular
b) he complies with the conditions which the competent authority has
specified in the permission.
A Contracting State may declare that evidence may be taken under this
Article without its prior permission.
In civil or commercial matters, a person duly appointed as a commissioner
for the purpose may, without
compulsion, take evidence in the territory of a Contracting State in
aid of proceedings commenced in the courts of another Contracting State,
a) a competent authority designated by the State where the evidence
is to be taken has given its permission either generally or in the particular
b) he complies with the conditions which the competent authority has
specified in the permission.
A Contracting State may declare that evidence may be taken under this
Article without its prior permission.
A Contracting State may declare that a diplomatic officer, consular
agent or commissioner authorized to take evidence under Articles 15,
16 or 17, may apply to the competent authority designated by the declaring
State for appropriate assistance to obtain the evidence by compulsion.
The declaration may contain such conditions as the declaring State may
see fit to impose.
If the authority grants the application it shall apply any measures
of compulsion which are appropriate and are prescribed by its law for
use in internal proceedings.
The competent authority, in giving the permission referred to in Articles
15, 16 or 17, or in granting the
application referred to in Article 18, may lay down such conditions
as it deems fit, inter alia, as to the time and place of the taking
of the evidence. Similarly it may require that it be given reasonable
advance notice of the time, date and place of the taking of the evidence;
in such a case a representative of the authority shall be entitled to
be present at the taking of the evidence.
In the taking of evidence under any Article of this Chapter persons
concerned may be legally represented.
Where a diplomatic officer, consular agent or commissioner is authorized
under Articles 15, 16 or 17 to take evidence –
a) he may take all kinds of evidence which are not incompatible with
the law of the State where the evidence is taken or contrary to any
permission granted pursuant to the above Articles, and shall have power
within such limits to administer an oath or take an affirmation;
b) a request to a person to appear or to give evidence shall, unless
the recipient is a national of the State where the action is pending,
be drawn up in the language of the place where the evidence is taken
or be accompanied by a translation into such language;
c) the request shall inform the person that he may be legally represented
and, in any State that has not filed a declaration under Article 18,
shall also inform him that he is not compelled to appear or to give
d) the evidence may be taken in the manner provided by the law applicable
to the court in which the action is pending provided that such manner
is not forbidden by the law of the State where the evidence is taken;
e) a person requested to give evidence may invoke the privileges and
duties to refuse to give the evidence contained in Article 11.
The fact that an attempt to take evidence under the procedure laid down
in this Chapter has failed, owing to the refusal of a person to give
evidence, shall not prevent an application being subsequently made to
take the evidence in accordance with Chapter I.
CHAPTER III – GENERAL CLAUSES
A Contracting State may at the time of signature, ratification or accession,
declare that it will not execute Letters of Request issued for the purpose
of obtaining pre-trial discovery of documents as known in Common Law
A Contracting State may designate other authorities in addition to the
Central Authority and shall determine the extent of their competence.
However, Letters of Request may in all cases be sent to the Central
Federal States shall be free to designate more than one Central Authority.
A Contracting State which has more than one legal system may designate
the authorities of one of such systems, which shall have exclusive competence
to execute Letters of Request pursuant to this Convention.
A Contracting State, if required to do so because of constitutional
limitations, may request the reimbursement by the State of origin of
fees and costs, in connection with the execution of Letters of Request,
for the service of process necessary to compel the appearance of a person
to give evidence, the costs of attendance of such persons, and the cost
of any transcript of the evidence.
Where a State has made a request pursuant to the above paragraph, any
other Contracting State may request from that State the reimbursement
of similar fees and costs.
The provisions of the present Convention shall not prevent a Contracting
State from –
a) declaring that Letters of Request may be transmitted to its judicial
authorities through channels other than those provided for in Article
b) permitting, by internal law or practice, any act provided for in
this Convention to be performed upon less restrictive conditions;
c) permitting, by internal law or practice, methods of taking evidence
other than those provided for in this Convention.
The present Convention shall not prevent an agreement between any two
or more Contracting States to derogate from –
a) the provisions of Article 2 with respect to methods of transmitting
Letters of Request;
b) the provisions of Article 4 with respect to the languages which may
c) the provisions of Article 8 with respect to the presence of judicial
personnel at the execution of Letters;
d) the provisions of Article 11 with respect to the privileges and duties
of witnesses to refuse to give evidence;
e) the provisions of Article 13 with respect to the methods of returning
executed Letters to the requesting authority;
f) the provisions of Article 14 with respect to fees and costs;
g) the provisions of Chapter II.
Between Parties to the present Convention who are also Parties to one
or both of the Conventions on Civil Procedure signed at The Hague on
the 17th of July 1905 and the 1st of March 1954, this Convention shall
replace Articles 8-16 of the earlier Conventions.
The present Convention shall not affect the application of Article 23
of the Convention of 1905, or of Article 24 of the Convention of 1954.
Supplementary Agreements between Parties to the Conventions of 1905
and 1954 shall be considered as equally applicable to the present Convention
unless the Parties have otherwise agreed.
Without prejudice to the provisions of Articles 29 and 31, the present
Convention shall not derogate from conventions containing provisions
on the matters covered by this Convention to which the Contracting States
are, or shall become Parties.
A State may, at the time of signature, ratification or accession exclude,
in whole or in part, the application of the provisions of paragraph
2 of Article 4 and of Chapter II. No other reservation shall be permitted.
Each Contracting State may at any time withdraw a reservation it has
made; the reservation shall cease to have effect on the sixtieth day
after notification of the withdrawal.
When a State has made a reservation, any other State affected thereby
may apply the same rule against the reserving State.
A State may at any time withdraw or modify a declaration.
A Contracting State shall, at the time of the deposit of its instrument
of ratification or accession, or at a later date, inform the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands of the designation of authorities,
pursuant to Articles 2, 8, 24 and 25.
A Contracting State shall likewise inform the Ministry, where appropriate,
of the following –
a) the designation of the authorities to whom notice must be given,
whose permission may be required, and whose assistance may be invoked
in the taking of evidence by diplomatic officers and consular agents,
pursuant to Articles 15, 16 and 18 respectively;
b) the designation of the authorities whose permission may be required
in the taking of evidence by
commissioners pursuant to Article 17 and of those who may grant the
assistance provided for in Article 18;
c) declarations pursuant to Articles 4, 8, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23 and
d) any withdrawal or modification of the above designations and declarations;
e) the withdrawal of any reservation.
Any difficulties which may arise between Contracting States in connection
with the operation of this Convention shall be settled through diplomatic
The present Convention shall be open for signature by the States represented
at the Eleventh Session of the Hague Conference on Private International
It shall be ratified, and the instruments of ratification shall be deposited
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
The present Convention shall enter into force on the sixtieth day after
the deposit of the third instrument of ratification referred to in the
second paragraph of Article 37.
The Convention shall enter into force for each signatory State which
ratifies subsequently on the sixtieth day after the deposit of its instrument
Any State not represented at the Eleventh Session of the Hague Conference
on Private International Law which is a Member of this Conference or
of the United Nations or of a specialized agency of that Organization,
or a Party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice may
accede to the present Convention after it has entered into force in
accordance with the first paragraph of Article 38.
The instrument of accession shall be deposited with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
The Convention shall enter into force for a State acceding to it on
the sixtieth day after the deposit of its instrument of accession.
The accession will have effect only as regards the relations between
the acceding State and such Contracting States as will have declared
their acceptance of the accession. Such declaration shall be deposited
at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; this Ministry
shall forward, through diplomatic channels, a certified copy to each
of the Contracting States.
The Convention will enter into force as between the acceding State and
the State that has declared its acceptance of the accession on the sixtieth
day after the deposit of the declaration of acceptance.
Any State may, at the time of signature, ratification or accession,
declare that the present Convention shall extend to all the territories
for the international relations of which it is responsible, or to one
or more of them. Such a declaration shall take effect on the date of
entry into force of the Convention for the State concerned.
At any time thereafter, such extensions shall be notified to the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
The Convention shall enter into force for the territories mentioned
in such an extension on the sixtieth day after the notification indicated
in the preceding paragraph.
The present Convention shall remain in force for five years from the
date of its entry into force in accordance with the first paragraph
of Article 38, even for States which have ratified it or acceded to
If there has been no denunciation, it shall be renewed tacitly every
Any denunciation shall be notified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the Netherlands at least six months before the end of the five year
It may be limited to certain of the territories to which the Convention
The denunciation shall have effect only as regards the State which has
notified it. The Convention shall remain in force for the other Contracting
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands shall give notice
to the States referred to in Article 37, and to the States which have
acceded in accordance with Article 39, of the following –
a) the signatures and ratifications referred to in Article 37;
b) the date on which the present Convention enters into force in accordance
with the first paragraph of Article 38;
c) the accessions referred to in Article 39 and the dates on which they
d) the extensions referred to in Article 40 and the dates on which they
e) the designations, reservations and declarations referred to in Articles
33 and 35;
f) the denunciations referred to in the third paragraph of Article 41.
In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorized thereto, have
signed the present Convention.
Done at The Hague, on the 18th day of March, 1970, in the English and
French languages, both texts being equally authentic, in a single copy
which shall be deposited in the archives of the Government of the Netherlands,
and of which a certified copy shall be sent, through the diplomatic
channel, to each of the States represented at the Eleventh Session of
the Hague Conference on Private International Law.