Foreign Official Immunity

Using TLB to Teach Foreign Relations Law

This post discusses Foreign Relations Law as part of our series explaining how professors can use resources on TLB to teach various classes. Previous posts have discussed Transnational Litigation, Civil Procedure, International Business Transactions, and Conflict of Laws. Although TLB focuses on litigation, and although Foreign Relations Law classes cover many topics that are rarely litigated, there is…

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Is MBS Entitled to Head of State Immunity?

Editor’s Note: This article also appears in Just Security. In 2018, Saudi security agents brutally murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) approved the operation. In 2020, Khashoggi’s widow and a non-profit organization that he helped found sued MBS and…

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No Immunity for Diplomats Who Hold Domestic Workers in Conditions of Modern Slavery

The U.K. Supreme Court issued an important decision last week in  Basfar v. Wong. The Court held that a diplomat who allegedly kept a domestic employee in conditions of modern slavery was not immune from suit because the alleged conduct brought the suit within the commercial activity exception to immunity under the Vienna Convention on…

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When Should Federal Common Law Govern Transnational Litigation?

The conventional wisdom is that transnational litigation “can trigger foreign relations concerns.” Because the federal government has primary responsibility for the United States’ relations with other nations, the question naturally arises whether federal law should govern such litigation even when neither a federal statute, nor the U.S. Constitution, nor a treaty is applicable. Currently, as…

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A Primer on State Law in Transnational Litigation

[Editors: This post is one in a series of Primers on topics in transnational litigation. Primers on each of the topics listed in the Topics menu are planned, and some already appear on the relevant topic pages.] The procedural and substantive rules that U.S. courts apply in transnational litigation come from many sources, including the…

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A Primer on Foreign Official Immunity

Foreign official immunity refers to rules of international and domestic law that shield foreign officials from suit and from criminal prosecution. These rules are related to the rules of foreign sovereign immunity, codified in the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), but they differ from those rules in many respects. Rules of foreign official immunity…

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Can Corporations Claim Foreign Official Immunity?

In a recent cert petition, the Israeli company NSO Group asks the Supreme Court to consider whether corporations are entitled to conduct-based immunity when they act as agents of foreign governments. The Ninth Circuit answered no to that question, reasoning that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) comprehensively covers the immunity of corporations like NSO….

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Customary International Law’s Domestic Status: Reflections After Twenty-Five Years

We are grateful to Bill Dodge for highlighting our 1997 article on the domestic legal status of customary international law.  In that article, we critically analyzed what we referred to as the “modern position,” which is the claim made by some academics and the Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law that customary international law has…

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Throwback Thursday: Revisiting Bradley and Goldsmith’s “Critique of the Modern Position”

Twenty-five years ago, Professors Curtis Bradley and Jack Goldsmith shook the fields of transnational litigation, federal courts, and foreign relations law by questioning the conventional wisdom that customary international law has the status of federal common law. Their article Customary International Law as Federal Common Law: A Critique of the Modern Position, published in the…

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Foreign Dictators in U.S. Courts

Statues of dictators

From Augusto Pinochet to Jiang Zemin and Ferdinand Marcos, foreign dictators have for decades faced a range of claims in U.S. courts. But there is also a line of cases in U.S. courts involving dictators as plaintiffs. Over the last decade, authoritarian governments from China, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela have used the U.S. judicial system to file frivolous claims against political opponents. And these claims appear to be mainly a harassment technique against dissidents and media outlets based in the United States.

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Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk

Vanderbilt Law School
ingrid.wuerth@vanderbilt.eduEmail

William Dodge

UC Davis School of Law
wsdodge@ucdavis.eduEmail

Maggie Gardner

Cornell Law School
mgardner@cornell.eduEmail

John Coyle

University of North Carolina School of Law
jfcoyle@email.unc.eduEmail

Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge

University of Georgia School of Law
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Linda J. Silberman

New York University School of Law
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Geneviève Saumier

McGill University Faculty of Law
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David L. Sloss

Santa Clara University School of Law
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Philippa Webb

King's College London
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Robert Kry

MoloLamken LLP
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Katie Burghardt Kramer

DGW Kramer LLP
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Emma White

Vanderbilt Law School
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Ellen Nohle

Yale Law School
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Chris Ewell

EarthRights International
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Oona A. Hathaway

Yale Law School
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