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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Throwback Thursday: Empagran’s Complicated Legacy

Twenty years ago tomorrow, on June 14, 2004, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd. v. Empagran S.A. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, interpreted the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982 (FTAIA) to preclude the application of U.S. antitrust law to injuries in other countries. Empagran…

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Fourth Circuit Applies Recent Supreme Court Decision on RICO Injuries

In Percival Partners Ltd. v. Nduom, the Fourth Circuit (Judge Harris, joined by Judge Thacker and Judge Richardson) applied last Term’s decision in Yegiazaryan v. Smagin (2023) to conclude that the plaintiffs’ alleged RICO injury was impermissibly extraterritorial. In an analysis that embraced Yegiazaryan’s contextual approach to siting RICO injuries, the Fourth Circuit held that…

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Second Circuit Allows Securities Claims Against Crypto-Asset Exchange

In Morrison v. National Australia Bank (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court applied the presumption against extraterritoriality to § 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act, holding that this provision applies only to transactions in the United States. Morrison’s transactional test has proven difficult to apply to unlisted securities that do not trade on an exchange. In…

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