2012 Symposium

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Resolving Differences in Global Legal Norms

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Honorable Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State

The Virginia Journal of International Law (VJIL) and the J.B. Moore Society of International Law is proud to present its 2012 Spring Symposium on Friday, February 10, 2012. The Symposium will present a set of panels discussing the issues surrounding conflicting legal norms found in the United States and other foreign jurisdictions. As domestic laws continue to extend their reach beyond the borders of a single jurisdiction, the United States and its institutions must confront the question of how to resolve these differences.


“Jurisdictional Conflicts of International Anti-Bribery Laws”: The recent enactment of the U.K. Bribery Act and other anti-bribery statutes in countries around the world raises multiple questions of how enforcement agencies should interact in order to increase efficiency and limit over-deterrence. Are there reforms that could be instituted to curb multiple prosecutions of a single defendant? How instructive are the previous debates concerning the conflicting norms between domestic and foreign antitrust regimes? Should a principle similar to double jeopardy apply to limit multiple enforcement actions of anti-bribery laws? How should deferred prosecution agreements be treated across jurisdictions?

Moderator: John C. Harrison, James Madison Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law.


  • Richard N. Dean, Partner, Baker & McKenzie LLP.
  • Elizabeth K. Spahn, Professor of Law, New England Law | Boston.
  • Paul B. Stephan, John C. Jeffries, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law.

“Shopping for Libel?”: Libel tourism — the practice of pursuing libel suits in selective foreign jurisdictions with plaintiff-friendly laws — has exploded in recent years, prompting a response by the U.S. Congress through the enactment of the Free Speech Protection Act of 2010. But while many questions regarding the enforcement of libel tourism judgments in the United States have been resolved by the new law, a number of residual issues remain. Most concerning is that libel tourism still carries the very real threat of deterring certain forms of speech, even in the United States. Are there other avenues the U.S. Congress could pursue to limit libel tourism? How proactive should the United States be in attempting to prevent this form of forum shopping? Are there any gray areas within the Free Speech Protection Act of 2010 that make its application less than straightforward?

Moderator: Leslie Kendrick, Associate Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law.


  • David A. Anderson, Fred & Emily Marshall Wulff Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas School of Law.
  • Bruce D. Brown, Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP.
  • Mark D. Rosen, Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“Sovereign Equality of Nations in the Federal Courts”: The U.S. federal courts frequently apply legal doctrines such as the Act of State doctrine and the doctrine of foreign sovereign immunity, which call for deference to the decisions of sovereign governments. In other instances, the U.S. federal courts are far more willing to question and evaluate sovereign decisions under the doctrine of forum non conveniens and when deciding whether to enforce a foreign court’s judgments. The potential whipsaw effect caused by these varying standards has been apparent in cases such as Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc., in which a group of Ecuadorian plaintiffs sought massive damages for an environmental tort that occurred allegedly at the hands of Chevron. Given the inconsistent approach taken by the U.S. courts in evaluating foreign judicial systems, how should domestic laws treat foreign sovereign governments and institutions? Should the federal courts be more deferential towards the concept of the “sovereign equality of nations” in order to apply a more even treatment of foreign institutions or is there another solution to this problem? Also, what repercussions might be expected from the ongoing Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc., litigation and other alien tort statute suits?

Moderator: Kenneth Anderson, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law.


  • Roger P. Alford, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School.
  • Donald Earl Childress III, Associate Professor of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law.
  • Peter B. Rutledge, Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law.