Brexit, Service of Process, and Evidence Compulsion in the United Kingdom
My newsfeed has been jam-packed with Brexit stories since England & Wales voted to quit the European Union (for the record, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to remain—and this will have additional effects on the state of the UK). On the morning of the result, I gave a CLE lecture that was co-opted quite a bit by the news. Personally, I was stunned, and my befuddlement was heightened by the many voters who offered that “I just voted Leave to shake things up… I didn’t think we’d actually do it!”
(Aside: this is what happens when dubious soundbytes—and flat-out falsehoods—appeal to an angry and frustrated electorate. Take heed, America… November is coming. Additional aside: don’t be too hasty to conclude that Brexit will actually come to pass. That is a good thing. If it does, Scoxit is next.)
Lest we Yanks think the result creates problems only on the other side of the Atlantic… think again. Within hours of the vote, the Pound plummeted to a three-decade low (the Euro fell also, but not precipitously), and that makes American goods and services more expensive abroad. Logically, the US manufacturing sector will take a hit as commerce slumps with the world’s largest trading bloc. True, it makes travel across the Atlantic highly attractive, but it stymies our already tepid economic recovery.
What of litigation, though? How will the Brexit affect service of process in the United Kingdom? Or on the continent, for that matter? How will it affect the compulsion of evidence in foreign jurisdictions?
Short answer: it won’t, except perhaps to make agent services in Europe and the UK less costly to American litigants.
The long answer really isn’t long, except to say that service of process and evidence compulsion are very country-specific issues, and those issues have little or nothing to do with the European Union. As to procedural issues in American lawsuits, Brexit will have negligible effect.