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Judicial Assistance
 
SPECIAL CONSULAR SERVICES

This is a summary of judicial assistance in Germany for ease of use by those accessing our web site. For the most up-to-date and complete information please see the State Department's judicial assistance web page.

For English-speaking attorneys in Germany, please see our lists of English Speaking Services.

Service of Process:

Service of process can be accomplished in civil cases through the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, 28 USCA (Appendix following Rule 4 FRCvP); Martindale-Hubbell International Law Digest, Part VII: "Selected International Conventions" (1993 Edition).

Service of process in criminal cases is accomplished only through the letter rogatory process, as described in 4 Moore's Federal Practice 28.05.

For the most up-to-date and complete information please see the State Department's judicial assistance web page.

Obtaining Evidence:

In civil cases, where a witness is willing to testify voluntarily, a deposition (pdf) may be conducted. Depositions may be taken on notice or by issuance of a commission by an American court to a "consular officer" (see 22 CFR 92.53) under the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters, Part VII USCA 1781 (1977 Supp.).

The Hague Evidence Convention does not apply to criminal cases. Obtaining evidence in criminal cases must be handled by a German court pursuant to written questions submitted under cover of a letter rogatory.

For the most up-to-date and complete information please see the State Department's judicial assistance web page.

Depositions in Civil Cases: As noted above, when a witness is willing to testify voluntarily in a civil case, a deposition may be conducted.

Click here for more detailed information on Depositions. (pdf 300kb)

General Procedure:

The deposition (pdf) must be of a U.S. citizen or a non-U.S. citizen resident in Germany. All testimony must be given voluntarily without coercion or threat of future sanctions. Therefore, prior to the taking of testimony and in accordance with German law, the consular officer will administer a voluntariness advisement to each witness. The attorney arranging the deposition(s) should contact the consular section of the Embassy or Consulate where the deposition is to be conducted as soon as possible prior to the proposed deposition date to discuss procedures, scheduling and payment of fees.

A minimum of six weeks prior to the agreed-upon deposition date, the attorney must provide to the Consular Section either:

  1. A copy of his/her notice to opposing counsel of anticipated taking of testimony; or
  2. A copy of the court order commissioning the consular officer to take testimony.

The notice or order should include the following:

  • Case name and docket number
  • Court where case is pending
  • Name/citizenship/address/telephone number of witness(es)
  • Date and place of depositions
  • Must include a brief description of the case with special focus on the appropriate standards of the American procedural and substantive laws.

The American Embassy in Berlin will notify the German Ministry of Justice which, in turn, will inform the appropriate Land (state) government.

It is the responsibility of the attorney arranging the depositions to engage a court reporter and, if necessary, a translator or interpreter. Please provide the Embassy or consulate taking the deposition with the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the court reporter and translator/interpreter in advance of the deposition(s).

NOTE: A list of local court reporters and a list of official sworn translators and interpreters can be obtained by contacting the consular section of the Embassy or consulate where the deposition is to be taken. The Embassy/Consulates take no responsibility with regard to the professional competency of any of those individuals whose names appear on the respective lists.

The testimony of witnesses in German court proceedings is not taken verbatim. Accordingly, the court reporters on the list may or may not be capable of recording the deposition(s) in a manner acceptable to an American court. It is the responsibility of the attorney arranging the deposition(s) to make certain the proceedings are recorded and transcribed in accordance with the law of the jurisdiction in which the case is pending.

Post Deposition Proceedings:

Absent a waiver on the record by the attorneys for the parties, following the deposition:

  1. The court reporter and the translator/interpreter must execute affidavits of accuracy before the consular officer
  2. The witness, after reviewing the transcript of his testimony and making any corrections in the manner prescribed by the attorneys or by the court having jurisdiction over the matter, must sign the transcript in the presence of the consular officer; and
  3. The consular officer must prepare a deposition closing certificate.

Fees:

All fees must be paid prior to the swearing of the participants and the taking of testimony.

Nonrefundable scheduling fee:

Arranging attorney must deposit $1,283.00 at the time of requesting scheduling, to cover consular time spent scheduling and arranging the deposition. The entire deposit is forfeited if the deposition is canceled or rescheduled for any reason, unless at the request of the pertinent consular section. To reschedule a deposition, the arranging attorney must deposit an additional $1,283.00.

Consular Hourly Rate/Costs:

In addition to the nonrefundable scheduling fee, the arranging attorney must pay an hourly rate of $309.00 per hour, assessed in minimum increments of one hour, for non-scheduling-related services rendered in connection with the deposition, e.g., administration of oaths and witness voluntariness statements, the consular officer's time spent presiding over the deposition, packaging of the deposition for mailing to the U.S., and any other deposition-related service. In the exceptional case where the consular officer must travel outside the Consulate General, in addition to the hourly rate the arranging attorney must pay the consular officer's costs. In such a case, the Embassy or consulate in question will require the arranging attorney to deposit the estimated amount of costs before the swearing of participants.

Post-Deposition Matters/Deposition Closing Certificate:

The charge for the court reporter's and translator/interpreter's affidavit of accuracy and the charge for the witness' signing of the transcript are included in the original hourly fee for the oath. Therefore, there is no additional charge for these services. The fee for a deposition closing certificate is $415.00

Postage:

Unless other arrangements for filing the original transcript(s) of the deposition(s) are made beforehand, the attorney arranging the deposition must deposit an additional $100.00 to cover registered postage and incidental expenses related to the handling of the transcript. Any unused amount will be returned.

Other:

The fee for photocopies is $1.00 per page

Contact us

You may reach us at the Special Citizens Services office at your local Embassy/Consulate

The Consulate emergency duty officer can be reached after working hours by calling your Embassy/Consulate’s information number