Korean Remote Video Deposition Interpreting Services
We’ve blogged before about the importance of using certified interpreters for foreign language depositions as well as the role of “check” interpreters during such legal depositions. Given the significant time and expense associated with traveling to other countries for foreign language depositions, coupled with advancements in technology and the current domestic and international spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, litigants and their attorneys often seek to have the foreign language depositions proceed by Zoom, by telephone or other remote means, especially when needing to depose minor or ancillary witnesses (and not important fact witnesses or experts) during short remote depositions. Below is one such case in which the plaintiff sought leave to take a deposition via video conference, but the defendant objected.
In Carrico v. Samsung Electronics, a California district court case, the plaintiff filed a motion requesting that the court allow two witnesses to be deposed via videoconference. The witnesses lived in South Korea and were supervisors of one of the defendants to the lawsuit. Since neither of the witnesses had any plans to travel to California, the plaintiff sought leave to take their depositions remotely in order to save time and minimize the costs of litigation.
The defendants objected to the plaintiffs’ request to depose the witnesses via video conference. The defendants argued that it would suffer prejudice if the depositions proceeded remotely due to the high risk of inaccuracies based on the fact that the witnesses spoke Korean and the deposition would involve the use of Korean-language documents.
The defendants contended that the parties should all be together for the depositions in order to address any problems with Korean to English translations immediately with the Korean interpreter and so the parties could hear each other clearly.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Allow Depositions to be Taken Remotely.
According to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(4), the court may, upon motion, order that a deposition be taken by telephone or other remote means. Under Rule 30(b)(4), the deposition occurs where the deponent answers the questions. Whether or not to allow a deposition to be taken remotely is up to the trial court judge.
According to the 9th circuit case Hyde & Drath v. Baker, 24 F.3d 1162, 1166 (9th Cir. 1994), a district court has “wide discretion” in determining where and how a deposition may be taken.
Federal Court Allows Deposition of Korean Witnesses to Proceed Via Videoconference
In Carrico, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to take the depositions via videoconference so long as plaintiffs complied with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when taking the depositions. In its opinion, the court cited various case law which holds that the party noticing the depositions generally has the right to choose the deposition’s location.
See, for example, Lopez v. CIT Bank, N.A., 2015 WL 10374104 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 18, 2015). In addition, courts have held that leave to conduct depositions via telephone should be liberally granted and a desire to reduce expenses may be cited as a valid reason for deposing witnesses remotely. The court reasoned that the deposition at issue in this case would proceed via livestreaming and the parties would be able to correct any audio problems immediately.
Plaintiffs Offered Defendants Opportunity to Choose Korean Deposition Interpreter and Present a “Check” Interpreter.
With regard to the defendants’ deposition translation concerns, the court noted that the plaintiffs offered to allow defendants to choose the Korean interpreter (even though the primary deposition interpreter, or the interpreter of record, would normally be chosen by the deposing party).
In addition, the plaintiffs did not object to the defendant’s attorney traveling to Korea for the deposition, and even offered the defendants the opportunity to have “check interpreters” present in both the United States and in Korea during the deposition to immediately correct any mistranslations that occurred.
Accordingly, the court held that the plaintiffs’ compromises were sufficient to address the defendants’ concerns with having the legal depositions taken via videoconference.
In regards to the exchange of documents, the court noted that the Plaintiffs had offered a number of accommodations. For example, the plaintiffs suggested that the parties could exchange the documents that were going to be used at the deposition in advance of the deposition and explained that all of the documents had been numbered, which would help facilitate the process of referencing documents during the deposition. In finding these accommodations to be sufficient, the court cited Lopez v. CIT Bank, N.A. Court No. 15-CV-00759, in which the court noted that “modern videoconference software permits participants to quickly and conveniently share documents and images with each other.” In Lopez, the court held that the burden of flying from California to Florida was more burdensome than reviewing the documents remotely. As in Lopez, the court in Carrico found that the burden of flying from California to South Korea outweighed the minimal burden of reviewing documents remotely.
The court also held that the defendant could choose the certified English to Korean interpreter for the depositions at the plaintiffs’ expense.
The case is Jeffrey Carrico v. Samsung Electronics, Court No. 15-cv-02087, decided on April 1, 2016 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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**This legal translation article should not be construed as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal needs.
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