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The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

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Chapter Summary

With the passage of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 19761 ("FSIA") the United States codified what is known as the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity, and adopted a jurisdictional and procedural framework for suits against foreign sovereigns and instrumentalities. This chapter addresses the general jurisdictional and immunity issues , and describes specific provisions establishing the presence or absence of an exception to immunity. The jurisdictional calculus under section 1605 of the FSIA involves analysis of the nine categories under which a foreign state will not be entitled to immunity. The chapter examines each exception in detail. Some of the exception includes waiver of immunity, commercial activity, expropriation, tortious conduct, enforcement of arbitral awards, and jurisdiction over counterclaims. The chapter presents some practical and strategic considerations for counsel handling an FSIA case, or involved in counselling parties to transactions with foreign sovereigns, whether states or instrumentalities.

Keywords: commercial activity; expropriation; foreign sovereign immunities act (FSIA); tortious conduct



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