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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New Bill Would Amend the Alien Tort Statute to Apply Extraterritorially

Last week, Senators Dick Durbin and Sherrod Brown introduced a new bill, the Alien Tort Statute Clarification Act (ATSCA), that would amend the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) to apply extraterritorially. Since 1980, plaintiffs have relied on the ATS to bring international human rights claims in federal court against individuals and corporations. But since 2013, the…

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Throwback Thursday: Joseph Story and the Comity of Nations

One of the most influential books on transnational litigation was written nearly two centuries ago by a sitting Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Conflict of Laws, first published in 1834, synthesized foreign and domestic cases regarding conflict of laws and the enforcement of foreign judgments. Story endorsed international comity…

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New Article Argues that the Helms-Burton Act Has Backfired

In an article recently posted on SSRN, Gergana Sivrieva surveys cases filed under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act for trafficking in expropriated property. She shows that, surprisingly, the principal defendants have not been foreign companies investing in Cuba but rather U.S. companies with only attenuated connections to such property. Congress passed the Helm-Burton Act…

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