Proof of foreign law
In an action before an English court, a party who relies on the rules of a foreign system of law must plead and prove them. Normally, the courts will not take judicial notice of the rules of foreign law,1 except that the House of Lords, which is a court of appeal in civil cases from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, will take judicial notice of the laws of all three countries in hearing appeals from the courts of any one of them.
In this respect rules of foreign law differ from those of public international law; moreover, the rules of public international law have the status of rules of law in an English court, because it is part of the law of England.2 Rules of foreign law have the status of facts. But they are unusual facts, because, unlike other facts, they need only be proved to the satisfaction of the judge, not that of the jury.3
At common law, a particular rule of foreign law must be proved afresh each time it is pleaded, because the foreign law may have changed since the previous occasion on which it was proved to and accepted by an English court.4
However, the Civil Evidence Act 19725 now provides that where any question of foreign law has been determined in any civil or criminal proceedings6 by a court other than one which can take judicial notice of foreign law, then any finding made or decision on that question in the earlier proceedings shall, if reported or recorded in citable form, be 33____________________