Embassy Law Web Log   
Washington, DC, USA      




Central Bank Funds Subject to Collection in U.S. Courts

The United States Supreme Court ruled on April 20, 2016 that the American legislative body has the constitutional authority to change the law in the midst of post-litigation proceedings to ensure that a winning party can collect from a foreign nation's central bank even if the law did not permit such collection during the litigation. The decision in Bank Markazi v. Peterson is read as permitting Congress to pick a winner:

Article III of the Constitution establishes an independent Judiciary with the province and duty … to say what the law is in particular cases and controversies. Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177. Necessarily, that endowment of authority blocks Congress from requir[ing] federal courts to exercise the judicial power in a manner that Article III forbids. Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 514 U.S. 211, 218. Although Article III bars Congress from telling a court how to apply pre-existing law to particular circumstances, Robertson v. Seattle Audubon Soc., 503 U.S. 429, 438–439, Congress may amend a law and make the amended prescription retroactively applicable in pending cases, Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U.S. 244, 267–268; United States v. Schooner Peggy, 1 Cranch 103, 110.
The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 "makes a designated set of assets available to satisfy the judgments underlying a consolidated enforcement proceeding which the statute identifies by the District Court’s docket number. 22 U.S.C. §8772," the court explained when it considered the new statute constitutional. -- Clemens Kochinke, partner, Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP, Washington, DC.