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Historic Judicial Exchange

Recognizing the importance of a modernized judiciary in an increasingly global legal environment, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced a national judicial reform program in October 2007. In support of the King’s announcement and funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, organized a series of judicial exchanges between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

In a historic first, Saudi Arabian judges traveled to the United States in November 2008 for two weeks of judicial consultations. In addition to visiting federal courts in Maryland and Minnesota, the delegation met with the Administrative Offices of the U.S. Courts, the Federal Judicial Center; the George Mason University Law and Economics Center, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Although the program partially focused on the procedural administration of justice and case management, the Saudi delegation also engaged their U.S. counterparts on a host of substantive issues, including bankruptcy adjudication, protection of intellectual property rights, judicial independence, and the jury system. The delegation also saw U.S. democracy in action as the presidential and general election occurred during their visit.

Made possible by the financial support of MEPI through its Commercial Law Initiative, these consultations expanded the activities started under the U.S.-Saudi Strategic Dialogue to increase the capacity of judges and legal officials in Saudi Arabia to adjudicate complex commercial and international transactions. These consultations equipped Saudi Arabian judges with the tools to improving the legal and business climate in the region.

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