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The U.S. Supreme Court building, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether federal law authorizes a United States district court to order discovery for use in private foreign arbitrations, an issue that has created a circuit split.

On March 22, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC. The case concerns 28 U.S.C. §1782, which authorizes a federal district court to order those within the court’s jurisdiction to provide discovery for use in proceedings in a “foreign or international tribunal.” At the heart of the case is whether a private foreign arbitration qualifies as such a “tribunal.” Three circuits have decided that private arbitrations are not covered under that provision, holding that the key phrase refers only to state-sponsored foreign tribunals. Two others disagreed, reasoning that the word “tribunal” is expansive enough to encompass private arbitrations.

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