U.S. Supreme Court Hears One Case, Grants Two More, On Private International Law Issues


On Tuesday, January 9, the Supreme Court heard argument in Sinochem v. Malaysia Int'l Shipping, regarding the doctrine of forum non conveniens in U.S. Courts.  The case was previewed on this site here, and the argument transcript can be found here.  It provides an interesting dialogue among members of the Court regarding the efficacy and operation of the doctrine in U.S. federal courts.

On Friday, January 19, the Court granted certiorari in 05-85, Powerex Corp. v. Reliant Energy Services.  The question presented in that case is whether a foreign company owned by a Canadian province and doing commercial business in the U.S. is to be treated as an organ of a foreign government, and thus entitled to have legal claims against it heard in federal rather than state court. The Court added to this review the question of the Ninth Circuit Court's jurisdiction to review a remand order by the District Court.  Courtesy of the SCOTUSblog, the briefs can be found here: Petition, Brief in Opposition, Reply.  Amici briefs from the government of Canada and British Columbia are expected to be filed, and it wouldn't be surprising if other sovereigns line-up as well.

On that same day, the Court also granted review in 06-134, India Permanent Mission to the United Nations v. New York City over the question whether foreign embassy properties used as diplomats' residence are immune to property taxes assessed by the local New York City government.  Especially interesting is question 2 presented in the petition: "Is it appropriate for U.S. Courts to interpret U.S. statutes by relying on international treaties that have not been signed by the U.S. government and do not accurately reflect international practice because they have been signed only by a limited number of nations."  The Court granted review over both questions.  Again courtesy of the SCOTUSblog, the briefs can be found here: Petition, Brief in Opposition, Reply .  This is also a case where one would expect numerous amici from other nations.