Abstract: This article focuses on some recent cases involving attempts by private creditors to enforce judgments against state assets. It examines how the international law rules on state immunity which permit enforcement but only against assets used for commercial purposes have been applied in domestic courts. In particular, it highlights an emerging trend in English cases where “context” has been used to protect state assets from seizure. It considers enforcement against the wider question of sovereign debt restructuring and concludes that, apart from a few exceptions, courts are protecting state assets despite increased pressure from creditors.
Keywords: state immunity from enforcement; state assets and attachment; judicial measures of constraint against state assets; sovereign debt; vulture funds; international insolvency; commercial purposes test for enforcement against state assets; customary international law on state immunity; the International Court of Justice on state immunity; US and European domestic law on enforcement; analysis of recent English cases; SerVaas; AIC; AIG; Orascom.
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