The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an interesting comity decision on whether U.S. courts should defer to foreign countries’ secrecy and blocking statutes when considering motions for discovery of documents located abroad. The court’s analysis turned on how seriously the foreign governments take their own statutes, including whether the governments actually prosecute violations. Based on that analysis, the court deferred to Switzerland’s bank-secrecy regime, but not to France’s “blocking statute” or to statutes in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (the “UAE”). Motorola Credit Corp. v. Uzan, ___ F.R.D. ___, 2014 WL 7269724 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 22, 2014).
This episode of the Motorola saga followed a decision about which we had previously blogged. That blog post had discussed the New York Court of Appeals decision upholding the “separate entity” rule, under which a restraining order served on the New York branch of a multinational bank cannot freeze or attach assets held at a separate foreign branch of the bank. The new decision, in contrast, more narrowly addresses whether a U.S. judgment creditor can subpoena a New York bank to obtain discovery about the judgment debtor’s assets in the bank’s foreign branch.