Comity in US Courts

86 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2017 Last revised: 22 Mar 2017

See all articles by Thomas Schultz

Thomas Schultz

King's College London

Niccolò Ridi

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)

Date Written: January 10, 2017


Few legal concepts divide opinions as much as comity. Some regard it as the rationale and very foundation of current conflicts of law and foreign relations law. Others see in it nothing more than a useless, and quite dead, relic of the past. The reality, as this article shows, is that comity thrives in the judicial decisions and is indeed capable of mitigating many global problems relating to the interaction of legal systems. But it can only fulfill its potential if we can dispel the current confusion surrounding it. This requires digging deep into a complex narrative, unfolding in intertwined tales of misunderstandings, ethical battles, and nation-building efforts. This article focuses on the American experience with comity, but views it within a broader international dimension, accounting for its global influence outside the U.S.A. What emerges is, on one side, the most solidly grounded scholarly understanding of comity to date and, on the other side, clearer guidance for courts in a variety of situations involving matters of restraint or recognition.

Keywords: Comity, Private International Law, Transnational Law, Territoriality, Foreign Relations Law

JEL Classification: K10, K20, K33, K41

Suggested Citation

Schultz, Thomas and Ridi, Niccolò, Comity in US Courts (January 10, 2017). Northeastern University Law Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2017, Available at SSRN:

Thomas Schultz (Contact Author)

King's College London ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Niccolò Ridi

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) ( email )

PO Box 136
Geneva, CH-1211

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