A letter rogatory is a formal request from a court in one country to "the appropriate
judicial authorities" in another country requesting service of process. Although statutory
authority generally refers to the instrument as a "letter rogatory", the terms "letter
rogatory" and "letter of request" (which is used specifically in the Hague Evidence
Convention) have come to be virtually synonymous in actual practice.
Letters rogatory can be used in civil and criminal matters, and have been used in
administrative matters. The execution of a request for judicial assistance by the foreign
court is based on comity between nations, absent a specific treaty obligation such as the
Hague Service Convention.
If there is no Consular Convention in force between the United States and the foreign
country, letters rogatory are received by foreign authorities on the basis of comity.
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