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Comity Definition

Comity Definition

Comity is defined in law as the practice between various political entities and it involves mutually recognizing legislative, judicial and executive acts. Comity is derived from the Latin term comitas.

A Little More on What is Comity

Some of the numerous descriptions of the doctrine international comity include a choice-of-law principle, a rule of public international law, courtesy and diplomacy among many others. However, the authorities have never reached an understanding of whether comity is a rule of law or whether it’s a rule of nature, custom, treaty or domestic law. This doctrine is one of the most confusing ones evoked in cases concerning the interest of foreign states

Dutch jurists Ulrich Huber and together with the others, searched for a method of handling law conflicts in a way which would reinforce the idea of Westphalian sovereignty. He believed in comity being a provision of international law and that the decision of applying foreign law belonged to the state as an act of free will.

Lord Mansfield introduced comity into English Law. He saw the application of comity as discretionary where the courts applied the foreign law but not to the extent of conflicting with principles of natural justice or public policy.

In Hilton v. Guyot (1895) the US Supreme Court held that the enforcement of a foreign judgment as a matter of comity is seen as a statement of comity in international law.

This court stated that in legality, comity could not be seen as either a matter of absolute obligation or just a courtesy and goodwill. Instead, it is the recognition accorded by one nation within its territory to the legislative, executive or the judicial acts of another nation and still having the consideration to international duty and convenience as well as the rights of its citizens or other persons under the protection of its laws.

Various foreign defamation judgments are not recognized as per the SPEECH Act which supplants the comity doctrine in the US. This act is designed at stopping libel tourism.

Professional Licensure      

Some states and territories inside the US recognize professional engineer licenses which are granted in a different jurisdiction by the holder’s education and experience. This is referred to as licensure by comity.

References for Research on Comity

Academic Research on Comity

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