News » SCOTUS May Consider China’s Interpretation Of Its Own Laws

SCOTUS May Consider China’s Interpretation Of Its Own Laws

Thunder storm sky over the United States Supreme Court building in Washington DC.

November 21, 2017

If the U.S. Supreme Court grants cert to a case presented by the Solicitor General On Nov. 14 it will be on track to consider for the first time the level of deference that federal courts should provide to foreign governments’ interpretations of their own laws. In Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation, Chinese manufacturers and exporters of Vitamin C stand accused of anti-competitive behavior in violation of the Sherman Act. The Chinese companies do not contest the allegations. They argue that they were compelled to act as they did by Chinese laws and regulations. A district court rejected that argument, but on appeal, the Second Circuit reversed, reasoning that when a foreign government provides sworn evidence regarding the construction and effect of its laws and regulations, a U.S. court is bound to defer, even if that representation is inconsistent with how those laws might be interpreted under the principles of our legal system. The petitioners contend that this “rigid” standard of deference is in conflict with the approach taken by at least some other circuit courts, which generally allow for more scrutiny of foreign governments’ assertions. The results could impact international litigation and U.S. foreign relations for many years to come.

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