The Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference has announced the launch of the e-Country Profiles project. The idea is for governments to provide information regarding the operation of several of the conventions in a standardized way that would be available on the HCCH website. In addition to the Service and Evidence Conventions, the project will include several of the family law conventions as well as the Protection of Adults convention.
At least for the two conventions I mostly use, the Service and Evidence Conventions, the HCCH website already includes a status table with links to each state’s declarations under the Conventions, as well as a “practical information” table in which each state can answer questions about the applicability of various articles of the Conventions, requirements concerning matters such as costs and translations, contact information for their authorities, and so forth. There are also links available to states’ answers to the questionnaires that the HCCH has circulated from time to time. The information available on the website is helpful but often less complete or less current than it could be. So there is a lot of potential for the new project to help practitioners and others by providing a more comprehensive, up-to-date, and centralized clearinghouse for information on state practice. Of course, nothing will replace advice from experienced lawyers in the state of execution, and so in Evidence Convention matters, I will continue to recommend to clients that we retain local counsel when sending a letter of request abroad. But having a central repository of information will be really helpful, especially in less familiar jurisdictions or jurisdictions where it’s hard to find a really experienced local lawyer.
The Permanent Bureau anticipates a first set of profiles will be available at the end of next year.