American Banana Co. v. United Fruit Co.
213 U.S. 347 (1909)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

American Banana Co. v. United Fruit Co., 213 U.S. 347 (1909)

American Banana Company

v. United Fruit Company

No. 686

Argued April 12, 13, 1909

Decided April 26, 1909

213 U.S. 347

Syllabus

While a country may treat some relations between its own citizens a governed by its own law in regions subject to no sovereign, like the high seas, or to no law recognized as adequate, the general rule is that the character of an act as lawful or unlawful must be determined wholly by the law of the country where it is done.

Page 213 U. S. 348

Law is a statement of the circumstances in which the public force will be brought to bear upon men through the courts, but the word commonly is confined to such prophecies or threats when addressed to persons living within the power of the courts.

A statute will, as a general rule, be construed as intended to be confined in its operation and effect to the territorial limits within the jurisdiction of the lawmaker, and words of universal scope will be construed as meaning only those subject to the legislation.

The prohibitions of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law of July 2, 1890, c. 647. 26 Stat. 209, do not extend to acts done in foreign countries even though done by citizens of the United States and injuriously affecting other citizens of the United States.

Sovereignty means that the decree of the sovereign makes law, and foreign courts cannot condemn the influences persuading the sovereign to make the decree. Rafael v. Verelst, 2 Wm.Bl. 983, 1055, distinguished.

Acts of soldiers and officials of a foreign government must be taken to have been done by its order.

A conspiracy in this country to do acts in another jurisdiction does not draw to itself those acts and make them unlawful if they are permitted by the local law.

166 F. 261, affirmed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 213 U. S. 353

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