Brigham Young University Prelaw Review

Article Title

The Bunker Hunt Case


Victor Sipos


Milton Bunker Hunt, foreign sovereign, international law, Libya


In recent decades, US courts have become more responsive to the ever-increasing commercialization of the world and more sensitive to the rights of US investors engaging in international markets. International trade has always posed risks to investors working under different legal systems within separate sovereign nations. The modern US stance on international law provides legal rights to US citizens which didn't exist even a quarter-century ago. The greatest concern of international investment is a foreign sovereign's power to nationalize interests within its boundaries without properly compensating the investor. In 1973, the Libyan extension of Milton Bunker Hunt oil interests encountered this situation. In Law No. 43 of 1973, the Libyan Revolution Command Council nationalized "all funds, rights, assets and shares" of Bunker Hunt interests. The law denied Bunker Hunt any legal voice in Libyan courts, leaving the US courts as the only hope for Bunker Hunt to gain legal redress. The case provides interesting insights into the process of bringing a foreign sovereign to trial in the US judicial system. Under the revised US system, the Libyan action can be exposed as unlawful according to international law.

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