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What Is the Court of International Trade?

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  • Written By: Elise Czajkowski
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2014
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The United States Court of International Trade is a US federal court that deals with civil matters pertaining to customs and international trade law. It is a forum for parties involved in international trade to litigate issues, particularly those related to imports into the US. The court is made up of nine federal judges, who are appointed, for life, by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The court is based in Foley Square in New York City, although it can hear cases anywhere in the country.

In 1980, Congress passed the Customs Courts Act, which created the US Court of International Trade. It replaced the United States Customs Court, which had limited powers and jurisdiction. The new court was given nationwide jurisdiction, meaning that it can decide cases arising anywhere in the country. It is also authorized to hold hearings in other countries.

The US Court of International Trade is a federal court that is authorized under Article III of the Constitution. Other courts under Article III are the Supreme Court, the federal courts of appeal, and the federal district courts. Unlike most of these courts, the Court of International Trade is limited by its subject matter jurisdiction, which means it only has the authority to hear cases related to international trade.

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Along with judging civil cases between private parties, the Court of International Trade is authorized to rule on any civil cases relating to international trade that are brought against the US or its agencies. It can also rule on certain trade issues brought by the US against foreign countries or companies.

Cases before the US Court of International Trade are generally heard by one judge. In certain significant cases, including cases that rule on the legality of acts of Congress, a three judge panel may be appointed. Appeals against the court are brought before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. As with all federal cases, the US Supreme Court is the court of final appeal.

Many cases before the US Court of International Trade are related to decisions made by government agencies on international trade matters. For example, a company may file a suit against the United States International Trade Commission, a body that investigates trade practices, if it feels the commission has ruled unfairly. Cases are also brought in the court by nations, trade unions, consumer advocates, and individuals.

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Discuss this Article

stoneMason
Post 3

Does the International Court of Trade have jurisdiction over anti-dumping issues?

turquoise
Post 2

@ZipLine-- Of course, governments of other countries, as well as industries and companies in other countries file cases with the US Court of International Trade (CIT).

The CIT has greater jurisdiction that its predecessor, the Customs Court, but still, not every trade case is qualified to be seen by the CIT. The reason that the Court seems like an appeals court is because civil trade cases are required to go through US administrative agencies before they can qualify as Court of International Trade cases. So it has to do with the nature of the Court and its jurisdiction.

ZipLine
Post 1

It seems like the Court of International Trade is mostly an appeal court. Those who are not happy with decisions given by other courts and agencies on international trade are brought here.

I know that nations can apply to the US International Trade Court, but do they frequently? I think if I was a foreign country with a trade dispute with the US, I would choose to go to an international trade organization instead.

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