Comity Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Comity, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Comity?

Respect, courtesy and adoption or enforcement of laws of one country or one jurisdiction by another. The ruling and application of law of one can be made applicable for cases which both have the rights to handle.

History and Meaning of Comity

Comity is a legal term that refers to the principle of mutual respect, cooperation, and goodwill among different legal systems or jurisdictions. It originated from the Latin word "comitas," which means "courtesy" or "generosity." Comity is crucial for the smooth interaction and communication between different legal systems, especially in international trade, diplomacy, and legal proceedings that involve multiple jurisdictions.

The principle of comity is based on the belief that it is beneficial for different legal systems to recognize and defer to each other's laws and judgments, as long as they do not conflict with their own legal principles and policies. The comity doctrine has its roots in English common law and has been recognized and applied by courts in the United States and other countries.

Examples of Comity

  1. When a court in one country recognizes and enforces a judgment or order issued by a court in another country, it exemplifies the application of comity. For example, if a U.S. court recognizes and enforces a judgment issued by a Canadian court in a civil dispute between companies from both countries.

  2. Comity can also be applied to the recognition and enforcement of foreign laws and regulations, such as in international trade and investment disputes. For instance, if a Japanese company agrees to comply with U.S. antitrust laws as a condition of doing business in the United States.

  3. In immigration law, comity can be used to recognize the immigration laws of other countries and to grant or deny visas or residency status based on the reciprocity of treatment. For example, if the United States grants visa-free entry to citizens of a country that offers the same treatment to U.S. citizens.

Legal Terms Similar to Comity

  1. Full Faith and Credit: A U.S. legal doctrine that requires states to recognize and enforce the judgments, orders, and public records of other states.

  2. Conflict of Laws: A legal field that deals with the resolution of disputes that involve different legal systems or jurisdictions.

  3. Forum non Conveniens: A U.S. legal doctrine that allows a court to decline jurisdiction over a case that would be more appropriate to be heard in another forum or jurisdiction.