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Article

Abstract

The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (hereinafter designated as "the Act") accomplished four major objectives. First, it codified the "restrictive" theory of sovereign immunity originally adopted by the State Department in the famous Tate Letter of 1952, by declaring that "[u]nder international law, states are not immune from the jurisdiction of foreign courts insofar as their commercial activities are concerned." Second, the Act provided that claims of foreign states to immunity would in the future be decided solely by the courts. This change was intended to ensure uniform application of the principles embodied in the Act, and was a reform long advocated by commentators. A third objective of the Act was to set up a procedure for service of process enabling plaintiffs to gain in personam jurisdiction over foreign states, thus making unnecessary the objectionable practice of attaching the property of a foreign state in order to gain jurisdiction.

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