Case of the Day: Han v. Financial Supervisory Service
Posted on February 13, 2018
The case of the day is Han v. Financial Supervisory Service (S.D.N.Y. 2018). It’s a very odd case. The plaintiff, Karen Han, brought an action against Financial Supervisory Service, which may or may not be an instrumentality of South Korea. The action sought a judgment declaring that if she serves a subpoena for testimony or documents on FSS, FSS will not be entitled to assert foreign sovereign immunity.
The court correctly dismissed the action for want of jurisdiction, though not for the reason readers who are well-informed about FSIA immunity but not so well-informed about federal courts might expect. In essence, Han was asking for an advisory opinion. Federal courts, which are courts of limited jurisdiction, lack the power to render advisory opinions. This is such an obvious point that it’s not really clear what Han’s lawyer might have had in mind. The correct procedure is to serve the subpoena and then confront the FSIA issue after FSS refuses to comply.