Statements From Foreign Governments Entitled To Respectful Consideration Under Rule 44.1, But Not Conclusive

In Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., American purchasers of Vitamin C accused the selling Chinese companies of fixing prices in violation of U.S. antitrust laws. The Chinese companies argued that Chinese law required them to fix the prices, and the Chinese government, through its Ministry of Commerce, filed a statement in support of that position. The purchasers offered evidence to contradict those statements. The district court rejected the arguments of the Chinese companies, resulting in a $147 million jury verdict against them. On appeal, the Second Circuit vacated the award, holding that the statement from the Ministry should have been treated as conclusive on the issue. The Court, in a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, reversed, holding that while the statements of foreign governments are entitled to respectful consideration, they are not conclusive. Under Rule 44.1, there is “no single formula or rule [that] will fit all cases” in how courts must weigh a foreign government’s statement of its own law, and federal courts are not “bound to adopt the foreign government’s characterization nor required to ignore other relevant materials.”