Alfred Dunhill of London, Inc. v. The Republic of Cuba

In Alfred Dunhill of London, Inc. v. The Republic of Cuba, 425 U.S. 682, 96 S.Ct. 1854, 48 L.Ed.2d 301 (1976), interventors appointed by the Cuban government to take possession of and operate nationalized Cuban cigar manufacturers had been paid large sums by importers in the United States and elsewhere for pre-nationalization shipments. These payments were found to have been made in error, since they should have been made to the prior owners of the cigar firms. The importers sought to recover the money. Counsel for the Cuban government and the interventors argued that the interventors' refusal to repay the pre-intervention sums represented a sovereign repudiation of any obligation to refund the amounts and as such an act of state not subject to challenge in American courts. The Court disagreed, refusing to conclude that "the conduct in question was the public act of those with authority to exercise sovereign authority and was entitled to respect in our courts." Id. at 694, 96 S.Ct. at 1861. There was no proof that the failure of the interventors to repay the money reached the level of an "act of state," a sovereign assertion of the Cuban government: