Hilton v. Guyot

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Hilton v. Guyot
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued April 10, 1894
Decided June 3, 1895
Full case name Henry Hilton v. Gustave Bertin Guyot, et al.
Citations 159 U.S. 113 (more)
16 S. Ct. 139; 40 L. Ed. 95; 1895 U.S. LEXIS 2294
The Court described the factors to be used when considering the application of comity.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Melville Fuller
Associate Justices
Stephen J. Field · John M. Harlan
Horace Gray · David J. Brewer
Henry B. Brown · George Shiras Jr.
Howell E. Jackson · Edward D. White
Case opinions
Majority Gray, joined by Field, Brown, Shiras, White
Dissent Fuller, joined by Harlan, Brewer, Jackson

Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113 (1895), was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court in which the court described the factors to be used when considering the application of comity. Hilton established the fundamental basis for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in the United States.[1] The decision has been called "the most detailed exposition of any American court of the principles governing the extraterritorial recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered in foreign nations."[2]

Opinion of the Court[edit]

The Court stated:

No law has any effect, of its own force, beyond the limits of the sovereignty from which its authority is derived. The extent to which the law of one nation, as put in force within its territory, whether by executive order, by legislative act, or by judicial decree, shall be allowed to operate within the dominion of another nation, depends upon what our greatest jurists have been content to call 'the comity of nations.' Although the phrase has been often criticised, no satisfactory substitute has been suggested.
‘Comity,’ in the legal sense, is neither a matter of absolute obligation, on the one hand, nor of mere courtesy and good will, upon the other. But it is the recognition which one nation allows within its territory to the legislative, executive or judicial acts of another nation, having due regard both to international duty and convenience, and to the rights of its own citizens, or of other persons who are under the protection of its laws.[3]

The Court also stated:

Now, the rule is universal in this country that private rights acquired under the laws of foreign states will be respected and enforced in our courts unless contrary to the policy or prejudicial to the interests of the state where this is sought to be done; and, although the source of this rule may have been the comity characterizing the intercourse between nations, it prevails to-day by its own strength, and the right to the application of the law to which the particular transaction is subject is a juridical right.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David J. Levy, International Litigation: Defending and Suing Foreign Parties in U.S. Federal Courts (American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, 2003), p. 343, 346.
  2. ^ Levy, p. 343 (quoting Willis L. M. Reese, The Status in this Country of Judgments Rendered Abroad, 50 Columbia Law Review 783, 790 (1950))).
  3. ^ Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113, 143 (1895).
  4. ^ Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113, 170 (1895).