Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Where comprehension of foreign law is not easy, then, a court abuses its discretion under that statute perhaps if it takes judicial notice of foreign law when it is not pleaded, and surely does so unless the party, who would otherwise have had the burden of proving that law, has in some way adequately assisted the court in judicially learning it.
Leo Walton is a citizen and resident of Arkansas, who, while temporarily in Saudi Arabia, was seriously injured when an automobile he was driving collided with a truck owned by Arabian American Oil Company, driven by one of its employees. Arabian American Oil Company is a corporation incorporated in Delaware, licensed to do business in New York, and engaged in extensive business activities in Saudi Arabia. Walton’s complaint did not allege pertinent Saudi Arabian 'law,' nor at the trial did he prove or offer to prove it. Arabian American Oil Company did not, in its answer, allege such 'law,' and Arabian American Oil Company did not prove or offer to prove it. There was evidence from which it might have been inferred, reasonably, that, under well-established New York decisions, Arabian American Oil Company was negligent and therefore liable to Walton. The trial judge, saying he would not take judicial notice of Saudi-Arabian 'law,' directed a verdict in favor of Arabian American Oil Company and gave judgment against Walton.
Insofar as the comprehension of foreign law is not easy, may the trial court take judicial notice of a foreign law when it was not pleaded?
The court found that Walton had the burden of showing, to the trial court's satisfaction, Saudi Arabian law, but failed to so prove that law. The court found that, because jurisdiction rested on diversity of citizenship, New York rules of the conflict of laws applied, which was that the substantive law applicable to an alleged tort was the law of the place where the alleged tort occurred. The court found that it would have been an abuse of discretion had the trial court taken judicial notice of the foreign law when it was not pleaded.