Does the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) Bar Prosecution in U.S. Courts of Commercial Enterprises Owned by Foreign States

On January 10th, 2023, the Washington Foreign Law Society hosted a webinar on Does the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) Bar Prosecution in U.S. Courts of Commercial Enterprises Owned by Foreign States? The panel, moderated by Mark. B. Feldman (former Acting Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State), featured Professor Chimène Keitner (Alfred and Hanna Fromm Chair in International and Comparative Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law), Professor David P. Stewart (Co-Director of Center for Transnational Business and the Law and the Global Law Scholars Program, Georgetown University Law Center), and Professor Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk (Associate Dean for Research, Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law and Director, Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program, Vanderbilt Law School). Additionally, Michael Teodori (President, WFLS) provided introductory and closing remarks.


Summary of the Event: Amid complex international legal battles, new circumstances and ramifications have prompted clarification of precisely what role the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) should play in asserting civil and criminal jurisdiction. More recently, the prosecution of the Turkish “Halkbank” has caused debate over claims of immunity from the courts of a foreign state. This issue has raised many complexities, such as how the distinction between criminal and civil jurisdiction, state and state-owned entities, and judicial and executive authority contribute to this hugely important case.


During this roundtable, the panelists discussed their experiences with foreign immunity and how the Supreme Court should respond in this upcoming case, Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States. Professor Chimène Keitner set off the debate, following a brief introduction to the topic from moderator Mark B. Feldman, providing background information plus identifying key points as the basis for the remainder of the debate. Professor David P. Stewart gave complimentary remarks, arguing the role the FSIA would realistically play in the upcoming court session. Professor Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk followed, answering some previously asked questions while raising her own points about the roles of both the executive and judicial branches in immunity determinations. The panelists also helped to frame the role of the FSIA in jurisdiction over criminal prosecutions concerning the context, magnitude, implications on U.S. law, and impact on U.S. national security.


The Washington Foreign Law Society wishes to thank the panelists for their time and contributions.


Webinar recording available at:

Posted January 18, 2023 in: Uncategorized