International Law

International Law, unlike most other areas of law, has no defined area or governing body, but instead refers to the many and varied laws, rules and customs which govern, impact and deal with the legal interactions between different nations, their governments, businesses and organizations, to include their rights and responsibilities in these dealings.

The immense body that makes up international law encompasses a piecemeal collection of international customs; agreements; treaties; accords, charters (i.e. the United Nations Charter); protocols; tribunals; memorandums; legal precedents of the International Court of Justice (aka World Court) and more. Without a unique governing, enforcing entity, international law is a largely voluntary endeavor, wherein the power of enforcement only exists when the parties consent to adhere to and abide by an agreement.

Due to the diverse legal systems and applicable histories of different countries, laws addressing international law include both common law (case law) and civil law (statutes created by governing bodies). Their application covers all the facets of national law, to include substantive law, procedure, and remedies.

There are three main legal principles recognized in much of international law, which are not required, but are based chiefly on courtesy and respect:

- Principle of Comity - in the instance where two nations share common public policy ideas, one of them submits to the laws and judicial decrees of the other.

- Act of State Doctrine - respects that a nation is sovereign in its own territory and its official domestic actions may not be questioned by the judicial bodies of another country. It dissuades courts from deciding cases that would interfere with a country's foreign policy.

- Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity - deals with actions brought in the court of one nation against another foreign nation and prevents the sovereign state from being tried in court without its consent. In the U.S., this is governed by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) of 1976.

To be determined a sovereign state a nation must run its own government, with its own territory and population.

There are both national laws and international agreements which govern/regulate international business transactions, which include investments, offshore banking, contracts, imports/exports, tariffs, dumping, trade and more.

Although there is no definitive governing body overseeing international law, the United Nations is the most widely recognized and influential international organization and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is its judicial counterpart.

International law may further be broken down as public or private. Public International law covers the rules, laws and customs that govern and monitor the conduct and dealings between nations and/or their citizens. The UN deals largely with public international law. Private International law (Conflict of laws) handles disputes between private citizens of different nations.


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Articles About International Law

  • What If You File Form 3520 Late: Form 3520 Penalties
    While the FBAR is the most common type of international information reporting form that US persons with foreign accounts may have to file, there are several other types of IRS foreign tax forms that US persons may have to file as well -- and Form 3520 is a good place to start. Form 3520 is one of the most common international reporting forms besides the FBAR. It is an international reporting form that requires US persons to report certain foreign gift and trust transactions, including: • Receiving a large gift from a foreign individual or entity, • Receiving a trust distribution from a foreign trust, • Maintaining ownership of a foreign trust, and • other various transactions with a foreign trust Let's walk through the basics of Form 3520, along with the code sections that authorize the IRS reporting requirements.
  • FBAR Penalties: If You Don't File, Will You Be Penalized?
    What Happens If You Do Not File FBAR (FinCEN 114)? While there are many different international information reporting forms a US Taxpayer may have to file each year in order to report their foreign accounts, assets, investments, and income -- the FBAR (aka FinCEN Form 114) is the most notorious. Up until early 2023, the IRS was in the habit of issuing penalties against noncompliant Taxpayers at $10,000 per account, per year – which could spell disaster for taxpayers who had several unreported accounts over many years. Then, in 2023, the Supreme Court in the case of Bittner put a stop to the IRS' penalty madness and limited non-willful FBAR penalties to $10,000 per year (the $10,000 adjusts for inflation). So, what happens now when a Taxpayer misses prior year FBAR filings and wants to go back to file FBARs for previous years?
  • Miscellaneous Action: Obtaining Witness Testimony and Documentation in The U.S. for a Foreign Proceeding
    Miscellaneous Action is designed to secure crucial witnesses residing beyond United States borders. Apart from a civil action, It is an application that can be used in foreign proceedings. In this article, our associate attorney Bradley Kolpack unpacks the details about miscellaneous action and how it can be initiated. Read the full article on our website and reach out to us to discover how we can support your legal needs.
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  • Customs Fraud Under The False Claims Act
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  • What is Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR)
    When it comes to getting into international tax compliance with the IRS for previously undisclosed foreign accounts, assets, investments, and income -- one of the most common types of unreported overseas holdings are still foreign bank and financial accounts. Foreign accounts come in all different shapes and sizes, depending on what type of account it is and which country the account is maintained. Whether it is a current account in the United Kingdom, an NRO/NRE account in India, or an investment account in Taiwan -- foreign bank and financial accounts must be reported each year to the US government in any year that the taxpayer exceeds the threshold requirements for reporting. 
  • Receiving Non-Immigrant Visas for the United States
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  • Do You Need Tax Advice as a Cryptocurrency Investor?
    Cryptocurrency and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have become a complex financial and tax issue for many American taxpayers and expatriates. How do you come into compliance with IRS and state tax reporting requirements as an investor in cryptocurrency and NFTs?
  • Extended Time to Assess Form 3520, 3520A & 5471 Penalty
    (Original Article Dated 2/26) When it comes to international tax and reporting, the general rule is that the Internal Revenue Service has three years to audit a Taxpayer. On the international tax front, the three (3) year rule is expanded to six (6) years in any situation in which there is more than $5,000 of gross income attributable to specified foreign financial assets -- such as a FATCA asset. Worse yet, is that the statute of limitation for assessment and collection may not even begin to run in a situation in which a taxpayer had a requirement to report certain transfers, such as foreign gifts, but failed to file the forms. Just as when a Taxpayer fails to file a tax return –– which leads to the tax return statute of limitations remaining open indefinitely – if a foreign reporting form is not filed, the statute to audit (and penalize) may also remain open as well.
  • 5 Streamlined Offshore Account Errors to Avoid 2023
    Back in 2019, we first authored a very popular article about some of the more common offshore account compliance procedure mistakes we were finding when Taxpayers approached us because they had their application rejected by the IRS -- or they were unhappy with their current representation. Fast forward to 2023, and the Streamlined Procedures have become pretty popular. Unfortunately, we are now finding that not only are the same mistakes happening, but new avoidable mistakes are happening as well. Let’s take a look at five more common streamlined mistakes you should try to avoid:
  • All International Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to International Law including: customs law, european community law, import and export, international investments, international trade, islamic law, offshore services.

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