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The Act Of State Doctrine

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Chapter Summary

This chapter first discusses the origin and purposes of the court-made doctrine and then considers the various exceptions and other limitations on the application of the doctrine that have arisen. The act of state doctrine is analytically distinct from the doctrine of sovereign immunity despite some similarities. The courts have recognized that the scope of the act of state doctrine may not be quite so broad if the foreign sovereign initiates the action in a U.S. court, and the consideration of the doctrine occurs in the context of a counterclaim. Courts and commentators alike have debated whether a commercial act exception exists to the act of state doctrine. A less well known and perhaps less formal exception to the act of state doctrine is the so-called corruption exception. It is not so much an exception as it is a reflection of the terms of the doctrine itself.

Keywords: commercial act exception; corruption exception; counterclaim; foreign sovereign; state doctrine



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