International Law–Extraterritoriality–Antitrust Law–Development of the Defense of Sovereign Compulsion

One of the most troublesome of these conflicts arises when an American business abroad is subjected to an order of a foreign government and the carrying out of that order requires that business to violate the antitrust laws of the United States. The recent case of Interamerican Refining Corporation v. Texaco Maracaibo, Incorporated confronted an American court with this precise issue for the first time. The United States District Court for the District of Delaware responded by saying that the defendants had been compelled to act as they did by the orders of a foreign sovereign government, and it held that such “sovereign compulsion,” when proved, constitutes a complete defense to an antitrust action. It is the purpose of this Note to explore this newly promulgated doctrine of sovereign compulsion in order to determine the basis on which it is founded and the practical difficulties and consequences that may result from its application.