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International Litigation Guides

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This guide provides an overview of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. It is intended as a practical introduction for those who have little knowledge of or experience with the statute. The guide focuses on the basic legal issues U.S. courts face when handling cases that arise under the statute.

In Print: Available for Distribution

The purpose of this guide is to help federal judges adjudicate civil cases alleging human rights violations under domestic and international law. This guide addresses cases with an international dimension brought in federal court pursuant to specific U.S. statutes that provide jurisdiction over such claims. These cases include rights-based legal disputes involving foreign plaintiffs or defendants, cases involving violations occurring abroad, and cases relying on international human rights law.

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The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty that governs judicial proceedings that are brought seeking orders for the prompt physical return of children who have been wrongfully taken or kept away from their "habitual residence." The treaty is in force between the United States and seventy-three other countries. State and federal courts have original concurrent jurisdiction to hear cases under the 1980 Convention. This guide discusses the purposes behind the adoption of the Convention along with a detailed explanation of its key provisions.  The second edition focuses on both federal and state case law interpreting the Convention and federal statutes that govern the handling of the cases in both state and federal courts. The guide offers practical suggestions for judges handling litigation under the Convention.

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This guide provides judges with an introduction to some of the major areas of international environmental law and examines how the law might arise in federal litigation involving climate change, hazardous chemicals and materials, protected species, water pollution, air pollution, environmental disaster response, and transborder enforcement of environmental regulations. It discusses the various sources of international environmental laws, such as multilateral trade agreements, bilateral investment treaties, and international standards and standard-setting organizations.

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At an increasing rate, U.S. courts are hearing cases in which parties seek evidence located abroad or parties to a foreign or international proceeding seek evidence located in the United States. International discovery issues pose difficult and complex challenges, at both the procedural and substantive levels. This guide seeks to address these issues by providing a practical overview of cross-border discovery questions that commonly arise in civil cases before federal courts.

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The investigation of transnational conduct often involves gathering evidence located in foreign countries. There are two primary means of obtaining evidence for use in a transnational proceeding: a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and a letter rogatory. This guide provides an overview of the statutory schemes and procedural matters that distinguish MLATs and letters rogatory, and it discusses legal issues that arise when the prosecution, the defense, or a civil litigant seeks to obtain evidence from abroad as part of a criminal or civil proceeding.

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This guide provides a brief overview of extradition law, focusing primarily on the extradition of fugitives from the United States. It describes the grounds for extradition, extradition proceedings, legal issues that may emerge, and related case management considerations.

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This guide provides an overview of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA). It discusses the FSIA’s purpose and scope of application, and it reviews the jurisdictional, procedural, and evidentiary questions most likely to arise at the outset of litigation. It discusses the entities entitled to immunity (in particular the distinctions between a "foreign state," its "political subdivisions," and its "agencies and instrumentalities"), exceptions to immunity, and issues relating to execution of judgments. The Addendum in Part VII discusses the terrorism exception, which was recently revised by Congress.

Superseded by The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act: A Guide for Judges, Second Edition (2018).

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This guide addresses the questions that may arise when a party to litigation in a U.S. court seeks to enforce a foreign judgment or to use a foreign judgment for preclusive effect in local litigation. Part II details the historical background of the applicable state law in recognition cases, and discusses the relationship between recognition and enforcement. It reviews the 1962 Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act, the more recent 2005 Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act, and the Restatement of Foreign Relations Law's provisions on foreign judgment recognition. Part III discusses issues important at the outset of any recognition case, including matters of scope under both Recognition Acts. Part IV covers the generally accepted grounds on which a judgment may be denied recognition, noting the minor differences between the common law approach, which generally follows the Restatement of Foreign Relations Law, and the statutory approach resulting from the 1962 Recognition Act and the 2005 Recognition Act. Part V reviews common issues in applying the grounds for non-recognition, and Part VI discusses recent proposals and other developments that are likely to bring change to the law on recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments.

In Print: Available for Distribution

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty that governs proceedings for the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully taken or kept away from their "habitual residence." This guide provides an overview of the Hague Convention, focusing on the legal and procedural issues judges are likely to encounter during litigation under this treaty. It discusses the purposes served by the Convention, describes its provisions, reviews relevant statutory and case law, and offers practical suggestions for managing Hague cases.

Superseded by The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction: A Guide for Judges, Second Edition (2015).

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