Here Comes That Frivolous Argentina ICJ Claim! Oh, And They Have No Jurisdiction Either!
As I noted last week, Argentina has been making threats to take the US government to the International Court of Justice over the results of US litigation over their 2002 sovereign debt default. And so today, Argentina has made good on its threat by filing an application to the ICJ contending that “that the United States of America has committed violations of Argentine sovereignty and immunities and other related violations as a result of judicial decisions adopted by US tribunals concerning the restructuring of the Argentine public debt.”
As the ICJ’s press release notes, Argentina is seeking to found jurisdiction upon the U.S. deciding to grant consent to the case. But the U.S. has no obligation to give such consent, nor does it have any incentive to do so. Nor does Argentina (I suspect) really expect the U.S. to grant consent. This is almost certainly a way to show its people and the world that it has a grievance, without actually ever having to test that grievance in a judicial proceeding.
And the fact that this lawsuit has no chance of getting to a court is probably a good strategy for Argentina. The actual specific claims are not yet available, but I have a hard time imagining they are anything but frivolous. The only claim I am aware of that was raised by a commenter to my post last week is that Judge Griesa exceeded his jurisdiction by ordering third-party banks not to pay out moneys on bonds issued under foreign law. This is an interesting argument, and even if it were plausible, I don’t understand why Argentina has not raised that argument directly to the U.S. courts. And this would still not impact the bonds issued under New York law.
Bottom line: there is no chance that Argentina gets the U.S. to accept jurisdiction before the ICJ. Expect more grandstanding from the Argentine government as it tries to use the ICJ as an international public relations platform.