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Tuesday
Dec092014

The University of Richmond Annual Corruption Issue, Part II: Chevron, Ecuador, and the Crooked Path to Foreign Justice

The University of Richmond’s Journal of Global Law & Business is proud to announce its annual Corruption Issue. In this series of posts, each co-authored by a UR law student and Professor Andy Spalding, we’ll introduce this year’s articles and invite submissions for next year’s issue.

In Will What Happened in Ecuador Stay in Ecuador? (available from ssrn here), Christopher Lento examines the Chevron/Ecuador litigation as a case study in the problem of enforcing foreign judgments in US courts. As he explains, we currently use a generalized approach and look at whether a foreign country generally affords fair due process in its judicial proceedings. If a foreign country generally has fair proceedings, then we enforce the judgment here in the U.S. But, what if a foreign judicial system exploits our willingness to apply the generalized approach and sprinkles in judgments based on fraud, bribery, or conspiracy? All three violate U.S. constitutional requirements and guarantees.

Lento recommends that instead of using the general view, the U.S. should take a more narrow view and look specifically at each case and its particulars. Under the general view, finding an entire country’s judicial system unfair is likely to influence international politics because it basically allows judges to pass judgment not only on a single case, but on how the U.S. views foreign countries. If our judicial system can’t trust an entire foreign justice system, then it may not trust the foreign country either. A more individualized approach could avoid this problem.

While looking at single cases would help keep foreign injustice from making its way into the U.S., it could come at a cost: a dramatic increase in the number of cases filed. In light of Chevron/Ecuador, and increasing levels of globalization, this may be the road we must eventually go down. But while we need to protect our domestic corporations, so too must we prevent overburdening the judiciary. Could our justice system handle the added strain? Congress may first need to hit the weight room and bulk up our judicial muscles.

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The Richmond Journal of Global Law & Business is now accepting articles for publication in its annual bribery and corruption survey. We prefer mid-length articles (around 12,000 words, with a maximum of 18,000 words, including footnotes). If you would like to submit an article for consideration, or discuss the possibility, please contact Chris Rohde here. Articles will be considered through February 15, 2015.

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Troy Jenkins is a second-year student at the University of Richmond School of Law, and a 2009 graduate of the University of Virginia.

Andy Spalding is Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.