VJIL Symposium: Introducing Marco Ventoruzzo’s “Like Moths to a Flame? International Securities Litigation After Morrison: Correcting the Supreme Court’s ‘Transactional Test'”

by Marco Ventoruzzo

[Marco Ventoruzzo is a Professor of Law at Pennsylvania State Dickinson School of Law.]

This post is part of the Virginia Journal of International Law Symposium, Volume 52, Issues 1 and 2. Other posts in this series can be found in the related posts below.

Thank you very much to Opinio Juris for hosting this online discussion of my recent Virginia Journal of International Law Article – “Like Moths to a Flame? International Securities Litigation After Morrison: Correcting the Supreme Court’s ‘Transactional Test’.”

Because of the broad jurisdiction American courts have asserted in cases arising under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, they have been called a Shangri-la for “foreign-cubed” class actions with little connection to the United States. Over the past forty years, the standards used by American courts to determine their jurisdiction in international securities disputes have evolved, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Morrison decision of 2010. The new transactional test promulgated in Morrison replaced all of its predecessor tests, from a test measuring whether the conduct in question took place in the United States to a test measuring whether the effects of the conduct were felt in the United States, to a combined conduct-effects test. This new transactional test is unsatisfactory, however, because depending on how it is interpreted, it is either too narrow to protect American investors as Congress intended in Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act, or too broad to resolve the ambiguities that plagued the conduct-effects test. This Article proposes a new effects test that will resolve ambiguities, protect American investors, and refrain from asserting American judicial jurisdiction overseas contrary to principles of international comity. Though the effects test would not grant private parties a cause of action against violators operating in the United States but who exclusively defraud those overseas, Congress has already granted authority to federal agencies to pursue such bad actors. The effects test is also in accordance with principles of other important jurisdictions, such as the European Union, and could serve as a basis for an international agreement on jurisdiction in international securities cases.


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