The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a decision permitting discovery for use in foreign proceedings which were contemplated but not yet pending. In this case, which arose from a billing dispute between Consorcio Ecuatoriano de Telecomunicaciones S.A. (“CONECEL”) and Jet Air Service Ecuador SA, CONECEL applied in the district court for an order under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 to obtain discovery for use in foreign proceedings in Ecuador. The foreign proceedings included both a pending arbitration brought by Jet Air against CONECEL and contemplated civil and private criminal suits CONECEL might bring against two of its former employees who, CONECEL claimed, may have colluded with Jet Air. The District Court granted CONECEL’s application and Jet Air appealed.
As we previously reported, on June 25, 2012, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court’s order, holding that the arbitral panel was a foreign tribunal for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1782. That decision did not address whether the contemplated civil and criminal proceedings constituted foreign proceedings within the meaning of § 1782. Recently, however, the Eleventh Circuit vacated its earlier decision sua sponte and instead analyzed whether the contemplated civil and criminal proceedings satisfied the “foreign tribunal” element of the statute. Noting § 1782 requires only that a proceeding be within reasonable contemplation, as supported by reliable indications that the proceedings will be instituted within a reasonable time, the Court found that CONECEL provided such reliable indications by proffering the results of its internal audits leading to its findings of collusion and by submitting sworn declarations of CONECEL’s intent to purse the civil and criminal actions. Application of Consorcio Ecuatoriano de Telecomunicaciones SA v. JAS Forwarding (USA), Inc., No. 11-12897 (11th Cir. Jan. 10, 2014), vacating 685 F.3d 987 (11th Cir. 2012).