The Governments of the Member States of the Organization of American States, desirous of concluding a convention on letters rogatory, have agreed as follows:
For the purposes of this Convention the terms “exhortos” and “cartas rogatorias” are synonymous in the Spanish text. The terms “letters rogatory”, ‘”commissions rogatoires”, and “cartas rogatórias” used in the English, French and Portuguese texts, respectively, cover both “exhortos” and “cartas rogatorias”.
This Convention shall apply to letters rogatory, issued in conjunction with proceedings in civil and commercial matters held before the appropriate authority of one of the States Parties to this Convention, that have as their purpose:
a. The performance of procedural acts of a merely formal nature, such as service of process, summonses or subpoenas abroad;
b. The taking of evidence and the obtaining of information abroad, unless a reservation is made in this respect.
This Convention shall not apply to letters rogatory relating to procedural acts other than those specified in the preceding article; and in particular it shall not l apply to acts involving measures of compulsion.
Letters rogatory may be transmitted to the authority to which they are addressed by the interested parties, through judicial channels, diplomatic or consular agents, or the Central Authority of the State of origin or of the State of destination, as the case may be.
Each State Party shall inform the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States of the Central Authority competent to receive and distribute letters.
Letters rogatory shall be executed in the States Parties provided they meet the following requirements:
a. The letter rogatory is legalized, except as provided for in Articles 6 and 7 of this Convention. The letter rogatory shall be presumed to be duly legalized in the State of origin when legalized by the competent consular or diplomatic agent;
b. The letter rogatory and the appended documentation are duly translated into the official language of the State of destination.
Whenever letters rogatory are transmitted through consular or diplomatic channels or through the Central Authority, legalization shall not be required.
Courts in border areas of the States Parties may directly execute the letters rogatory contemplated in this Convention and such letters shall not require legalization.
Letters rogatory shall be accompanied by the following documents to be delivered to the person on whom process, summons or subpoena is being served:
a. An authenticated copy of the complaint with its supporting documents, and of other exhibits or rulings that serve as the basis for the measure requested;
b. Written information identifying the authority issuing the letter, indicating the time-limits allowed the person affected to act upon the request, and warning of the consequences of failure to do so;
c. Where appropriate, information on the existence and address of the court-appointed defense counsel or of competent legal-aid societies in the State of origin.
Execution of letters rogatory shall not imply ultimate recognition of the jurisdiction of the authority issuing the letter rogatory or a commitment to recognize the validity of the judgment it may render or to execute it.
Letters rogatory shall be executed in accordance with the laws and procedural rules of the State of destination.
At the request of the authority issuing the letter rogatory. the authority of the State of destination may execute the letter through a special procedure, or accept the observance of additional formalities in performing the act requested, provided this procedure or the observance of those formalities is not contrary to the law of the State of destination.
The authority of the State of destination shall have jurisdiction to determine any issue arising as a result of the execution of the measure requested in the letter rogatory. Should such authority find that it lacks jurisdiction to execute the letter rogatory, it shall ex officio forward the documents and antecedents of the case to the authority of the State which has jurisdiction.
The costs and other expenses involved in the processing and execution of letters rogatory shall be borne by the interested parties.
The State of destination may, in its discretion, execute a letter rogatory that does not indicate the person to be held responsible for costs and other expenses when incurred. The identity of the person empowered to represent the applicant for legal purposes may be indicated in the letter rogatory or in the documents relating to its execution.
The effects of a declaration in forma pauperis shall be regulated by the law of the State of destination.
Consular or diplomatic agents of the States Parties to this Convention may perform the acts referred to in Article 2 in the State in which they are accredited, provided the performance of such acts is not contrary to the laws of that State. In so doing, they shall not perform any acts involving measures of compulsion.
States Parties belonging to economic integration systems may agree directly between themselves upon special methods and procedures more expeditious than those provided for in this Convention. These agreements may be extended to include other States in the manner in which the parties may agree.
This Convention shall not limit any provisions regarding letters rogatory in bilateral or multilateral agreements that may have been signed or may be signed in the future by the States Parties or preclude the continuation of more favorable practices in this regard that may be followed by these States.
The States Parties to this Convention may declare that its provisions cover the execution of letter r s rogatory in criminal, labor, and “contentious -administrative” cases, as well as in arbitrations and other matters within the jurisdiction of special courts. Such declarations shall be transmitted to the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
The State of destination may refuse to execute a letter rogatory that is manifestly contrary to its public policy (“ordre public”).
The States Parties shall inform the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States of the requirements stipulated in their laws for the legalization and the translation of letters rogatory.
This Convention shall be open for signature by the Member of the Organization of American States.
This Convention is subject to ratification. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States .
This Convention shall remain open for accession by any other State. The instrument of accession shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
This Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day following the date of deposit of the second instrument of ratification.
For each State ratifying or acceding to the Convention after the deposit of the second instrument of ratification, the Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after deposit by such State of its instrument of ratification or accession
If a State Party has two or more territorial units in which different systems’ of law apply in relation to the matters dealt with in this Convention, it may, at the time of signature, ratification or accession, declare that this Convention shall extend to all its territorial units or only to one or more of them.
Such declaration may be modified by subsequent declarations, which shall expressly indicate the territorial unit or units to which the Convention applies. Such subsequent declarations shall be transmitted to the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States and shall become effective thirty days after the . This Convention shall remain in force indefinitely, but any of the States Parties may denounce it. The instrument of denunciation shall be deposited with l the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States. After one year from the date of deposit of the instrument of denunciation~ the Convention shall no longer be in effect for the denouncing State, but shall remain in effect for the other States Parties.
The original instrument of this Convention, the English, French, Portuguese and Spanish texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States. The Secretariat shall notify the Member States of the Organization of American States and the States that have acceded to the Convention of the signatures, deposits of instruments of ratification, accession, and denunciation as well as of reservations, if any. It shall also transmit the information mentioned in the second paragraph of Article 4 and in Article 18 and the declarations referred to in Articles 16 and 23 of this Convention.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned Plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized thereto by their respective Governments, have signed this Convention.
DONE AT PANAMA CITY, Republic of Panama, this thirtieth day of January one thousand nine hundred and seventy-five.