Evolution of 28 U.S.C. § 1783: An Unexplored Tool to Support International Arbitration?

Kabir Duggal, Rekha Rangachari, Peter L. Schmidt

Journal of International Arbitration Volume 38, Issue 4 (2021) pp. 483 – 510

July 14, 2021

In certain disputes, it may be important to acquire evidence from the other party, but it is difficult to do so because the international arbitration process envisions only a limited form of discovery from the opposing party in the form of document production. There is, however, the potential of an unexplored option in US law to help fill this void. 28 U.S.C. § 1783, also known as the ‘Walsh Act’, enables a United States court, under certain circumstances, to subpoena a national or resident of the United States who is in a foreign country to personally appear as a witness before the court, or before someone designated by the court, or to produce specific testimony or documents. Considering the ubiquity of American parties in international disputes, section 1783 has the potential to become an important tool in the arsenal of a disputes lawyer. Indeed, considering how section 1782 has been increasingly applied in international arbitration, it is possible that section 1783 might evolve as an important component in considering strategies for international arbitration. Like section 1782, however, due to its lack of use to date and vague statutory language, its applicability to various forms of international arbitrations remains an unfortunately open question. But it still has the potential to change international arbitration as we know it