The Fun of Telling a Court You’re Not Going to Obey Its Order

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Well, actually, he said he would obey the court's order as long as the order it entered was the one he had just asked it for:


Of course, it's the client that's planning to defy the court's order, not the lawyer, so it's really not fair for the court to get mad at him personally (although that happens every day). And when the client is a sovereign country—in this case, Argentina—the court can't exactly throw it in jail for contempt. Refusing to obey is not an option for most of us, but a country is in a different situation (and in a different country, so to speak).

That doesn't mean there are no consequences, assuming the country has property in a U.S. jurisdiction or contracts that might be enforceable here. According to this post at Manhattan Contrarian, Argentina's problem is that it defaulted on about $100 billion of debt back in 2001, and still owes about $7 billion, which it does not want to pay. In fact, it passed a law prohibiting itself from repaying (another option sadly not available to you and me). But the bonds at issue are payable in New York, and bondholders have been suing for years and years. And Argentina has lost consistently. The Supreme Court just denied certiorari, which now presents the question whether Argentina is actually going to tell the U.S. courts to go pound sand, as its lawyer was told to suggest in the pictured argument (earlier this year in the Second Circuit).

If so, I predict somebody will send an associate to deliver that message. Bring some pajamas!

Via Legal Ethics Forum.