Search The Library's Lexicon
The laws of a foreign country.
The Manner In Which Laws Of A Foreign Country Are To Be Proved.
The courts do not judicially take notice of foreign laws, and they must therefore be proved as facts. The manner of proof varies according to circumstances. As a general rule the best testimony or proof is required, for no proof will be received which pre-supposes better testimony attainable by the party iybo offers it. When the best testimony cannot be obtained, secondary evidence will be received.
Authenticated copies of written laws and other public documents must be produced when they can be procured but should they be refused by the competent authorities, then inferior proof may be admissible.
When our own government has promulgated a foreign law or ordinance of a public nature as authentic, that is held sufficient evidence of its existence.
When foreign laws cannot be proved by some mode which the law respects as being of equal authority to an oath, they must be verified by the sanction of an oath.
The usual modes of authenticating them are by an exemplification under the great seal of a state, by a copy proved by oath to be a true copy, or by a certificate of an officer authorized by law, which must, itself, be duly authenticated.
Foreign unwritten laws, customs and usages are ordinarily proved by parol evidence. When such evidence is objected to on the ground that the law in question is a written law, the party objecting must show that fact. Proof of such unwritten law is usually made by the testimony of witnesses learned in the law and competent to state it correctly under oath.
The public seal of a foreign sovereign or state affixed to a writing purporting to be a written edict, law, or judgment is the highest evidence and no further proof is required of such public seal. But the seal of a foreign court is not evidence without further proof and must therefore be established by competent testimony.
Courts of admiralty are courts under the laws of nations, therefore their seals will be admitted as evidence without further proofs; an exception to the general rule.
Their Effect When Proved.
The effect of such foreign laws, when proved, is properly referable to the court. The object of the proof of foreign laws is to enable the court to instruct the jury what is, in point of law, the result from foreign laws, to be applied to the matters in controversy before them. The court is therefore to decide what is the proper evidence of the laws of a foreign country, and when evidence is given of those laws, the court is to judge of their applicability to the matter in issue.