International Civil Litigation in United States Courts
Experienced International Civil Litigation Team
Do you need legal advice on international civil litigation matters in U.S. courts? Do you have a question regarding how international law is applicable in U.S. litigation? If so, it is time to get in contact with an experienced international civil litigation attorney.
Government investigations do not stop at the border. The United States has the power to regulate and enforce its laws against foreign nationals and foreign governments in connection with certain foreign conduct.
This puts not only foreign individuals at an increased risk of being subject to litigation in U.S. courts, but also U.S. individuals doing business in foreign countries. The complexities of cross-border procedural and substantive laws demand the proficiency of an attorney who understands how, when, and the extent to which international civil law is litigated in U.S. courts.
At Oberheiden, P.C., our team of skilled and dedicated attorneys are experienced in the laws regulating international law in U.S. courts, representing clients in transnational disputes, and working with foreign counsel to coordinate the litigation process in other countries. We possess an intricate understanding of multi-jurisdictional issues and evidence-accumulating abroad.
Some of the more complex matters we are competent to handle include cross-border commercial litigation, foreign contract disputes, claims against foreign governments, and the defense of foreign judgments. Our clients include private individuals, businesses (including state-owned companies), and sovereign governments.
Do not wait for an investigation or litigation to be underway without securing the advice of an experienced defense attorney. Call or contact our team today for a free and confidential consultation to protect your rights and reputation.
What is International Civil Litigation?
International civil litigation is defined broadly as litigation of civil matters either brought by, brought against, or involving foreign parties—foreign nationals, foreign businesses, or foreign sovereigns. In other words, it is a lawsuit that involves a dispute between two parties that reside in different countries.
The process of international civil litigation is more convoluted than domestic civil litigation—beginning with the initial steps of service over a foreign party and then to discovery in another country and finally to enforcement of foreign judgments.
Because of the complexity and lack of understanding of international civil litigation in U.S. courts, it is critical to retain an attorney with a solid background in this area and extensive experience successfully litigating such issues.
Examples of International Civil Litigation Matters
The International Civil Litigation Team at Oberheiden, P.C. draws upon its experience in global defense tactics and knowledge of complex cross-border civil litigation to deliver high-quality legal services to its clients.
Some examples of international civil litigation matters—both procedural and substantive—that our team is competent to handle include the following:
- Cross-border discovery issues, including the Hague Convention on Taking of Evidence Abroad
- Disputes with jurisdiction (service of process, forum non conveniens, etc.)
- Issues involving choice of law
- Extraterritorial applications of various U.S. statutory provisions
- Enforcement of foreign judgments and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards
- Allegations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”)
- Representation of foreign nationals and foreign businesses in U.S. courts
- Allegations involving foreign sovereign governments, including the applicability of foreign sovereign immunity
- Collaborating with local foreign counsel
- Asset identification and recovery in foreign countries
- International commercial litigation such as cross-border or foreign contract disputes, transactions with foreign corporations, or allegations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”)
This above list shows examples of the areas we are competent to handle. If you have a question about one of the matters on this list or an additional matter relating to international civil litigation in U.S. courts, do not hesitate to contact our team of dedicated and experienced defense attorneys today.
Initial Procedural Issues Regarding International Civil Litigation in U.S. Courts
Litigation in U.S. courts is oftentimes expensive and a long process. It can involve many courts—especially due to the ability of parties to appeal to higher courts—and a host of legal issues.
Before actually litigating your case in U.S. court, there are several procedural burdens that must be addressed including personal jurisdiction, service of process, forum non conveniens, venue, choice of law, forum selection clauses, and immunity of officials and sovereigns. We discuss each of these issues below.
- Personal Jurisdiction: Whether the court has the power over your dispute is the first question that needs to be answered. This issue is particularly relevant for foreign defendants because it is sometimes challenging for the court to assert jurisdiction over foreign defendants. When the case involves foreign parties, the easiest way for the court to exercise jurisdiction is for that foreign party to consent to the jurisdiction of the U.S. court. If the court is unable to assert personal jurisdiction over the individual or entity—foreign or domestic—the case cannot proceed.
- Service of Process: In order for your lawsuit to proceed in U.S. court, service must be proper. In order to “serve” the other party, the delivery of certain documents must be proper according to the rules and procedures of the court and the rules of federal procedure.
- Forum Non Conveniens: If the court determines that another forum would be better suited to decide the case at issue, the court will dismiss the case under “forum non conveniens.” This frequently occurs when U.S. courts decide that the case would be better resolved in a foreign forum.
- Venue: When the court determines that the dispute should be litigated in another forum either based on the law or what is more sensical, it will dismiss the case based on venue.
- Choice of Law: Choice of law involves a conflict of laws analysis that attempts to determine which jurisdiction’s law applies (foreign vs. U.S. law; New York vs. California law, etc.).
- Foreign Selection Clauses: These clauses are most common in business transactions and contracts. A forum selection clause designates which court and which law the parties must use in the event of a dispute. When these clauses are used, the parties are considered to be consenting to the jurisdiction of that court. Such clauses are generally upheld unless there is evidence that the clause is unreasonable, unfair, or was procured by fraud.
- Immunity of Officials and Sovereigns: Immunity means that certain officials and sovereigns cannot be sued without their consent. Relevant here, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities ACT (“FSIA”) provides that foreign states are immune from being sued in U.S. courts unless the case is listed under one of the Act’s specifically enumerated exceptions.
Post-Procedural Considerations and Differences
Additional issues can arise after the procedural issues are taken care of. With respect to international civil litigation in U.S. courts, some of these issues include treaties, discovery, privilege, extraterritorial reach of U.S. law, recognition of foreign judgments, and recognition of foreign arbitral awards. These are discussed below.
- Treaties: U.S. courts follow statutory laws enacted by Congress or—where no statutes regulate that issue—the common law as developed by judges over the years. Other cases are resolved by treaties when they concern, for instance, international law or foreign law. An example of a commercial treaty frequented brought up in cross-border litigation in U.S. courts is the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (“CISG”). This treaty provides for a uniform framework for international commerce and contracting.
- Discovery: U.S. discovery is an area where some of the most differences arise compared to foreign jurisdictions. The discovery process in U.S. courts is very broad and permits parties to engage in extensive discovery tactics. Further, for cross-border cases, the means for obtaining evidence abroad for use in U.S. courts is a long and expensive process. Sometimes, parties may seek discovery in a foreign country from the Hague Evidence Convention.
- Privilege: The most common privilege is the attorney-client privilege. While different from country to country, this privilege protects certain communications between parties and their attorneys from discovery. Therefore, with respect to proceedings that involve multiple jurisdictions, understanding the different rules on privilege can create problems, especially when the other parry seeks to discover information that may or may not be protected by privilege.
- Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Law: Many provisions of U.S. statutes apply extraterritorially. This means that these provisions are applicable to regulate foreign conduct or foreign nationals. Examples of statutes that contain provisions that apply extraterritorially are the antitrust laws, federal securities laws, and employment statutes. Foreign defendants should be aware that their foreign status does not shield them from the potential reach of U.S. law.
- Recognition of Foreign Judgements: U.S. courts can enforce both U.S. and foreign judgments. A judgment rendered in U.S. court can also be enforced in a foreign jurisdiction. While the requirements for such recognition and enforcement of another jurisdiction’s judgments can vary from country to country, it is advisable to get in contact with your attorney as well as local counsel in the foreign country.
- Recognition of Foreign Arbitral Awards: U.S. courts also have the power to enforce foreign arbitral awards under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards—more commonly known as the New York Convention. The United States is a signatory to the New York Convention and regularly recognizes and enforces foreign arbitral awards.
Need Advice with International Civil Litigation in U.S. Courts?
International civil litigation in U.S. courts is composed of complex rules and procedures that oftentimes varies considerably compared to foreign jurisdictions.
Court proceedings that involve cross-border transactions, foreign law, or international litigation in general require the services of a law firm experienced in understanding international civil litigation in U.S. courts. Without the proper direction and knowledge of foreign and international law, you are taking a significant risk regarding the resolution of your case.
At Oberheiden, P.C., our International Civil Litigation Team is competent to litigate these issues as well as craft comprehensive defense strategies. For decades, we have successfully helped clients resolve their legal disputes—which have frequently crossed multiple borders—and navigate the complex U.S. judicial process. We can do the same for you.
Do not wait. Call or contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation to protect your rights.