United States District Court, S.D. New York
IN RE APPLICATION OF REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN FOR AN ORDER DIRECTING DISCOVERY FROM CLYDE & CO. LLP PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1782
OPINION & ORDER
SIDNEY H. STEIN, District Judge.
Anatolie Stati, Gabriel Stati, Ascom Group, S.A. and Terra Raf Trans Traiding Ltd. ("intervenors" or "Stati Group") have moved at Part I to (1) vacate an Order issued by Judge Kimba Wood on March 30, 2015 that granted the Republic of Kazakhstan ("ROK") leave to obtain discovery from the law firm of Clyde & Co. LLP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 and (2) quash the subpoena duces tecum subsequently served on Clyde & Co. LLP pursuant to that Order. Because the statutory prerequisites of 28 U.S.C. § 1782 have been met and discretionary factors weigh against vacating that Order and quashing the subpoena, intervenors' motion is denied.
On December 19, 2013, an arbitral tribunal in Sweden determined that ROK had illegally seized a liquefied petroleum gas plant ("the LPG plant") and issued a final arbitral award in favor of the Stati Group that valued the LPG plant at $199 million. (Decl. of Charlene Sun dated April 10, 2015 ¶¶ 3, 4.) ROK then brought an action in the Svea Court of Appeal in Sweden seeking an order setting aside the final arbitral award. (Decl. of Matthew Kirtland dated April 21, 2015 ¶ 8.) In its appeal, ROK challenges the award on several grounds, including that the valuation of the LPG plant was improperly low. ( Id. at ¶ 9.) After the appeal was filed, ROK brought a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 in the Southern District of New York. In that petition, ROK sought documents from Clyde & Co. LLP, counsel to Vitol/Vitol FSU B.V. and Arkham SA, which are parties in three other arbitration proceedings where the valuation of the same LPG plant was allegedly at issue. (Kirtland Decl. ¶¶ 11-13, 17.) ROK asserts on information and belief that in those three arbitrations, the Stati Group had provided a lower estimate of the value of the plant than it did in the Swedish arbitration and that this information is relevant to ROK's appeal in Sweden. ( Id ¶13; Decl. of Hans Bagner dated April 21, 2015 ¶13.) The Stati Group, intervening as of right in this proceeding, now moves to vacate Judge Wood's Order permitting discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 and to quash the subpoena duces tecum served on Clyde & Co. LLP pursuant to that Order.
At the April 28, 2015 oral argument before this Court sitting in Part I, Clyde & Co. LLP stated that it did not oppose producing the requested documents.
A. ROK's Petition Meets the Statutory Requirements of Section 1782
28 U.S.C. § 1782 governs under what conditions U.S. courts may provide assistance to foreign and international tribunals and litigants before those tribunals. The statute "affords access to discovery of evidence in the United States for use in foreign proceedings." In re Edelman, 295 F.3d 171, 175 (2d Cir. 2002). 28 U.S.C. § 1782 provides, in pertinent part, that,
"[t]he district court of the district in which a person resides or is found may order him to... produce a document... for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal... The order may be made pursuant to a... request made, by a foreign or international tribunal or upon the application of any interested person... To the extent that the order does not prescribe otherwise, ... the document... [shall be] produced, in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has identified three requirements in section 1782 as follows,
"(1) that the person from whom discovery is sought reside (or be found) in the district of the district court to which the application is made, (2) that the discovery be for use in a proceeding before a foreign tribunal, and (3) that the application be made by a foreign or international tribunal or any interested person.'"
Edelman, 295 F.3d at 175-76 (citing In re Esses, 101 F.3d 873, 875 (2d Cir. 1996) (per curiam)).
Each of these requirements has been met here. The Stati Group urges that the first requirement-that the person from whom discovery is sought must be found in the Southern District of New York-has not been satisfied because ROK's petition seeks discovery from "Clyde & Co. LLP, " which is an entity headquartered in London, England, and the subpoena was served on Clyde & Co. U.S. LLP in New York, which is "a separate entity." (Mem. in Support of Motion to Vacate and Quash at 8, Dkt. No. 8.)
It is not disputed, however, that the two entities "operate as a single law firm" and all the New York-based partners in Clyde & Co. U.S. LLP are also partners in Clyde & Co. LLP. ( See Letter from Clyde & Co. LLP dated April 9, 2015 ¶4, attached as Ex. 4 to Sun Decl.) Clyde & Co. LLP's partners' daily practice of law in this jurisdiction gives it the requisite "systematic and continuous" presence to be ...