March 26, 2021 International Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Servotronics Goes to the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide when parties can obtain U.S. discovery in aid of international arbitrations next term.

By H. Christopher Boehning, Geoffrey Chepiga, and Carter Greenbaum

On March 22, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC to decide whether 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a) can be used to obtain discovery in the United States in aid of a foreign private commercial arbitration. Section 1782 provides a federal district court with authority to grant discovery “for use in a foreign or international tribunal,” but lower courts have split as to whether this provision applies to foreign private commercial arbitrations, or just foreign or international courts.

If the Supreme Court determines that Section 1782 authorizes domestic discovery to aid foreign private commercial arbitrations, it will open up U.S. companies to potentially broad and costly discovery. Either way, the Supreme Court’s decision may have broad ramifications for any company that routinely engages in international arbitration as well as companies that may have documents responsive to matters involved in an international arbitration, even if they are only third parties. 

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