International Law-Soverign Immunity-The First Decade of the Tate Letter Policy

On May 19, 1952, the State Department announced in the Tate Letter a new policy with regard to the filing of suggestions of immunity in suits against foreign sovereigns. The letter indicated that the Department would begin to follow a restrictive theory of sovereign immunity. This meant that it would file a suggestion of immunity if the case arose from acts of the foreign government or its agents which were of a purely governmental character (jure imperii), but would deny immunity in instances where the acts engaged in were of a commercial or proprietary nature which could be carried on by any individual or corporation (jure gestionis). It is the limited purpose of this comment to summarize executive and judicial treatment of this policy, to point out some of the problems involved in implementation of the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity, and to suggest changes which might help to alleviate some of these difficulties.