Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Statuta Suo Clauduntur Territorio, Nec Ultra Territorium Disponunt Definition:

Statutes are confined to their own territory and have no extra-territorial effect.

This ancient Latin maxim has been given judicial articulation in Sandberg v McDonald, William Rufus Day of the US Supreme Court writing:

"Legislation is presumptively territorial and confined to the limits over which the law-making power has jurisdiction."

This has important effect to traveling citizens or people who commit acts that may have been crimes in their jurisdiction of residence, but not in their jurisdiction where the act occurred:


"(T)he general and almost universal rule is that the character of an act as lawful or unlawful must be determined wholly by the law of the country where the act is done."1


For example, an act which might constitute the indictable offence of spousal abuse in the United States may be acceptable conduct in Saudi Arabia (circa 2013) under the Muslim law doctrine of the disobedient wife (nashiza).

Scalia and Garner wrote, in their 2012 book Reading Law:

"It has long been assumed that legislatures enact their laws with this territorial limitation in mind. Indeed, medieval law had the maxim statuta suo clauduntur territorio, nee ultra territorium disponunt - statutes are confined to their own territory and have no extraterritorial effect....

"This is not to say that international law forbids extraterritorial application. A country may, if it wishes, subject its own citizens to its laws wherever they are/ and may subject all persons in other countries to its laws with regard to action that has a substantial effect within its territory. But in practice, that is the exception rather than the rule."



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