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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI485,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI485 2009-06-17 13:01 2011-01-31 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
VZCZCXRO1237
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0485/01 1681302
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171302Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4930
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5464
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000485 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/MAG; COMMERCE FOR ITA: NATE MASON, AND CLDP: MARC 
TEJTEL, HISHAM ELKOUSTAF, AND MARAM TALAAT; ENERGY FOR GINA 
ERICKSON; PARIS AND LONDON FOR NEA WATCHERS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/17/2019 TAGS: ECON PHUM PGOV MEPI PREL EAID LY

1. (C ) Summary: Under the Department of Commerce's Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), a U.S. federal judge conducted a workshop for 30 Libyan judges and attorneys on international arbitration from June 3-4 in at the High Judicial Institute in Tripoli. The program represents the first step in a program to expose Libyan judges to international arbitration best practices. Our Libyan interlocutors warmly welcomed the judge on her first trip to Libya, asked her to return to Libya for future programs and told Emboffs that the High Judicial Institute could directly coordinate future training sessions without working through the MFA or MinJustice equivalents. Holding the workshop at the judicial institute provided a window into Libya's otherwise largely opaque judicial system, and could in the future afford a channel in which to address more sensitive topics such as human rights and judicial reform. End summary.

2. (C) Under the auspices of the CLDP, Judge Delissa Ridgway (U.S. Court of International Trade) traveled to Libya May 30-June 4 to conduct a two-day workshop for Libyan judges and state attorneys on international arbitration. Funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the workshop represents the first step in a program to expose Libyan judges to international arbitration best practices, a topic the Libyan General People's Committee for Justice (MOJ-equivalent) had indicated was a priority. Proposed future activities include connecting the judges to their counterparts in Tunisia, where there is an arbitration center, and to judges and courts in the U.S. Strengthening the Libyan judges' expertise in this area is expected to contribute to the long-term improvement of the commercial legal environment,creating better conditions for U.S. companies operating in Libya.

3. (C) Before the arbitration workshop, the Embassy's main point of contact for commercial law programming was the International Cooperation Department at the GPC for Justice. In three preparatory trips to Libya (between November 2008 and February 2009), Commercial Law Development Program staff were unable to meet with the Libyan body responsible for actually training judges, the High Judicial Institute; however, once Judge Ridgway arrived, a meeting was hastily arranged by the GPC for Justice with the Chief Inspector of Judges, Juma Bouzaid, and the Director of the High Judicial Institute, Dr. Nouredeen Alakrmi. Bouzaid, who speaks fluent English, was curious about the U.S. judicial system and asked a series of cogent questions about immunity for judges, how U.S. judges are evaluated and how the Supreme Court decides which cases to hear. He noted that in Libya, judges (and state attorneys) have full immunity and that the Supreme Court would (theoretically) hear any case that had been appealed in a lower court. The Director of the High Judicial Institute, Alakrmi, admitted he had no prior knowledge of the CLDP workshop (reflecting the lack of coordination on the GOL side), but said he would quickly arrange for the workshop to take place over the next two days. He added that in Libya, there is a great interest in learning more about the "Anglo-Saxon" and U.S. judicial approaches. (Note: 75 Libyan judges are currently undergoing training in the U.K. under a GOL-funded program to teach them English for nine months, and to then provide training in international law. End note.)

4. (C) On June 3, approximately 30 judges and state-attorneys showed up for the first day of the workshop. The original proposal from CLDP called for a smaller group of judges (around 20) from all over Libya, with a gender balance. The Embassy also asked for a list of participants prior to the workshop in order to tailor the sessions to their backgrounds and level of experience; however, no list was provided in advance. The group was also intended to include only judges; however, the institute staff explained that in Libya state attorneys could be rotated into positions as judges on an annual basis, so it would be beneficial to include them in the workshop as well. Approximately half the group were women and half men; most of the judges were men. At the coffee break, one of the female attorneys admitted to Econoff that she did not want to become a judge because it would take up too much time, and she needed a more regular schedule in order to take care of her family. Very few of the participants spoke English - the justice ministry provided an English-speaking employee to interpret, but since he was not a trained interpreter the quality was spotty. (Note: In the future, it may be useful to consider funding a professional interpreter for similar USG-funded workshops. End note).

5. (C) The workshop comprised an overview of the U.S. judicial TRIPOLI 00000485 002.2 OF 002 system and a presentation on international commercial arbitration, with an emphasis on the concept that in international commerce, the two parties are free to enter into a contract as equals and the court's role is to enforce the contract. The importance of predictability was stressed as a key to attracting foreign investment; the role judges and lawyers play in ensuring fair application of the law is therefore important in creating the perception of a favorable business environment. Questions from the Libyan participants included how U.S. courts would deal with General Motors' bankruptcy and when "public order" in a sovereign nation takes precedence over a contract. Alakrmi, the director of the judicial institute, commented that "judges must be brave" and give greater consideration to international public policy than to domestic politics. Concepts such as the sanctity of contracts and the choice of law and forum were discussed. Even though Libya is not yet a party to the New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration awards, Libyan judges said most of them were familiar with the convention since five Arab countries are already parties to it. The presentation was followed by practical exercises involving real cases in order for the participants to actively discuss how they would handle various cases - Judge Ridgway said she was impressed by their level of participation and enthusiasm.

6. (C) During the week in Tripoli, the CLDP visitors were also able to meet with members of the construction and energy sectors. Shell's Country Manager admitted that his company would "move heaven and earth to avoid litigation," particularly in Libya. They viewed their relationship as being with "Libya, Inc." and assess that going to arbitration could seriously that relationship and their long-term investments. Noting that Shell had gone through an arbitration case in Qatar, he said it had taken many years for the company to get back on track there. He noted that while Shell's contracts with the National Oil Company are written under Libyan law, its contracts with international oil service contractors are usually under U.K. law. xxxxxxxxxxxx In Libya, it was still the case that relationships and negotiations take precedence over the legal system.

7. (C) By holding the workshop at the judicial institute, CLDP and the Embassy gained a better understanding of the legal education system in Libya. Only about 110 students (out of 500 applicants) a year are admitted to the institute. Successful completion of the institute's curriculum is a requirement to become a state attorney, which is the stepping-stone to a judgeship. Before candidates are admitted to the institute, they must study law for four years after graduating from high school and then pass written and oral exams. The other alternative is to enter a private law practice and work as a trainee for two years before becoming a lawyer. The salary for a government lawyer ranges between 500 and 1,000 dinars a month (equivalent to USD 400-800 a month), whereas a private attorney can earn approximately 3,000 dinars a month (USD 2,400) or more.

8. (C) Comment: The CLDP workshop on arbitration was a good first step in forging a working relationship with the judicial education system in Libyan. It also provided access to the otherwise-opaque system of justice here. The judicial institute's director welcomed Judge Ridgway to come back to Libya and said the Embassy could be in direct contact with him to discuss future cooperation projects. These could include the travel of Libyan judges to the arbitration center in Tunis, as well as a visit to the U.S. Court of International Trade. The enthusiasm and candor of the director were a welcome relief from the more cautious norm, and could help pave the way to broach more sensitive topics such as human rights and judicial reform in the context of future training programs. Experience has shown that while we forge a new relationship with the judicial institute, it will also be important to double-track future projects with the Ministry of Justice. In addition, the source of funding for this program (MEPI) was not discussed during this visit; MEPI remains a neuralgic issue for conservative regime elements, who regard it as a vehicle for regime change. Most of the judges and attorneys who participated in the workshop had little or no previous direct experience with the U.S. and therefore represented a new target audience for Embassy outreach. End comment. CRETZ