Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Detlev F. Vagts

First Page



As the keynote speaker of this symposium, it is my function to provide a general framework within which the other speakers can develop their specific topics with much more extensive and current knowledge than I have.

In a crude way, the importance of the subject matter can be measured by the increase in the number of cases listed under the West key numbers for "Judgments" which purport to collect all of the cases on the enforcement of foreign judgments in United States courts. The West Modern Federal Practice Digest uses four pages under this caption to list cases for the years from 1939 to 1970. In contrast, the Federal Practice Digest 2d uses seven and three-quarters pages for cases from 1967 to 1977 and the pocket part has another three and one-half pages. Such statistics hide the great disparities in the size and significance of international litigation. At one end of the scale is the mass of litigation triggered by Nigeria's refusal to accept all the cement it had ordered, or the huge uranium contract and antitrust litigation in the United States. At the other end is the case of a New York couple who arranged to send furniture to New York from Vienna and subsequently changed their mind, leaving the antique furniture dealer to resort to the Austrian long-arm rules.

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