Tuesday, March 26, 2019

SCOTUS Decision in Republic of Sudan v. Harrison: Service of Process on a Foreign State under the FSIA

Today the Supreme Court issued an 8-1 decision in Republic of Sudan v. Harrison (covered earlier here). Justice Alito’s majority opinion begins:

This case concerns the requirements applicable to a particular method of serving civil process on a foreign state. Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA), a foreign state may be served by means of a mailing that is “addressed and dispatched . . . to the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state concerned.” 28 U. S. C. §1608(a)(3). The question now before us is whether this provision is satisfied when a service packet that names the foreign minister is mailed to the foreign state’s embassy in the United States. We hold that it is not. Most naturally read, §1608(a)(3) requires that a mailing be sent directly to the foreign minister’s office in the minister’s home country.

Justice Thomas dissented, writing: “I would hold that respondents complied with the FSIA when they addressed and dispatched a service packet to Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs at Sudan’s Embassy in Washington, D. C.”




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