Extraterritoriality

Extraterritoriality refers to the application of a nation’s law to persons, conduct, or property outside its own territory. Customary international law allows nations to regulate extraterritorially on a number of different bases, including effects, nationality, and universal jurisdiction. Nations generally limit the extraterritorial application of their laws to a greater extent than customary international law requires. For example, the United States applies a presumption against extraterritoriality to federal law and sometimes imposes additional limitations as a matter of prescriptive comity. Some U.S. states have their own presumptions against extraterritoriality, which may differ from the federal presumption.

A Primer on Extraterritoriality

Extraterritoriality refers to the application of a state’s law beyond the state’s borders. Although the word “extraterritorial” often has negative connotations, international law permits a great deal of extraterritorial regulation. In a world where trade, information, crime, and lots of other things regularly cross borders, states often have an interest in regulating beyond the strict…

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Mexico’s Lawsuit against U.S. Gun Makers Opens a New Front in the War Against Firearm Industry Immunity

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The Extraterritorial Reach of Criminal Statutes

When federal statutes do not indicate how far they reach, courts apply a presumption against extraterritoriality to limit their geographic scope. Last year, in Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International, Inc. (2023), the Supreme Court revised the presumption by requiring conduct in the United States for a statute’s application to be considered domestic. Meanwhile, lower courts…

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