United States Supreme Court Holds That The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 Does Not Provide Immunity to Officials of a Foreign State From Lawsuits Filed in United States Courts


The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (“FSIA”) is a United States federal law that provides immunity from liability to a foreign state for its public acts. (28 U.S.C. §§ 1330, 1332, 1391(f), 1441(d), and 1602-1611.) If a foreign defendant qualifies as a “foreign state” (or its political subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities) under the FSIA, it is immune from being sued in any United States Court, unless a statutory exception to immunity applies (e.g., the foreign defendant waives immunity; or agrees to submit a dispute to arbitration; or engages in a commercial activity; or commits a tort in the United States such as a traffic accident; or expropriates property in violation of international law). In addition, exceptions for torture, extrajudicial killing, aircraft sabotage and hostage-taking were added by amendment to the FSIA in connection with recent anti-terrorism laws.

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