Blocking and Clawing Back in the Name of Public Policy: The United Kingdom’s Protection of Private Economic Interests against Adverse Foreign Adjudications

Novicoff, Michael L. | January 1, 1985

Like their common law cousins, the courts of the United Kingdom have long claimed the authority to decline recognition to foreign sovereign acts which pose a threat to their nation’s public policy. This Article surveys the British cases in which such discretion has been or might have been exercised, and it concludes that the doctrine is no longer applied in the very instances for which it was developed. Instead, it appears that the doctrine is, in its old age, used merely as a pretext for the advancement of British economic interests at the expense of international comity. A new model for the application of the old public policy doctrine is suggested, in which courts must take care to establish a nexus between their own authority, the refugee from foreign power, and the subject matter of the controversy, before interfering with the otherwise lawful activity of a foreign sovereign.