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What is a question of law and how does it relate to Rule 44?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2021 | Business Litigation

In many criminal proceedings and civil suits, courts seek to resolve the facts of the case. Common questions include whether a person is guilty of a crime or whether a person or a company is liable for damages or injuries. However, your legal question may be very different if it involves the application of Chinese law in America.

Rule 44.1 is a procedure given to federal courts to help them determine whether foreign law applies to a situation in the United States. Since a question of law is different than a question of fact, you may want to know more about it if you ever want to use Rule 44.1 procedure in a U.S. court to show that you were following Chinese law in America while conducting business.

Resolving a question of law

The Cornell Law School explains that a question of law generally involves resolving a matter concerning American law. In such matters, a judge must make the determination instead of a jury. A judge may figure out whether a specific law applies to a case. If the judge already knows which law should apply, he or she may decide how the law applies to a case or the correct interpretation of the law. There are also cases where a court must consider the application of laws from outside the United States.

How Rule 44 uses questions of law

It is possible that you have followed Chinese law but have broken an American law in the process of doing business in the United States. You may avoid legal consequences if you can show that you were following the laws of China. To establish this fact, you must raise an issue about Chinese law through a written notice per Rule 44.1.

The resulting litigation is a question of law because an American judge will rule whether Chinese law applies in your case. The judge may consider any evidence that is relevant to your case, including an expert witness who can testify to matters of Chinese law. Since Chinese law has its own nuances and interpretations, an expert witness may be critical to helping an American judge understand how Chinese law is applicable in your situation.