Understanding the categories of reciprocity and international comity in Russian judicial practice

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Authors: Alexandra Kasatkina, Irina Get’man-Pavlova, Natalia Erpyleva

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2023-1-94-119

Keywords: private international law; international civil procedure; legal assistance; Russian judicial practice; principle of reciprocity; principle of international comity


The categories of reciprocity and international comity are well known and often mentioned in Russian judicial practice. However, an analysis of this practice shows that the Russian judicial community does not understand either the genesis, legal nature, or specifics of these concepts. In the minds of judges, “the principle of reciprocity originates from international comity”, although in reality it is exactly the opposite – the principle of reciprocity appeared in law much earlier than international comity and is its basis. Reciprocity and comity in Russian judicial acts are often considered as one principle, although they are different categories that have different legal natures and require different attitudes in their application. In many judicial acts, reciprocity and comity are characterized as universally recognized principles of international law, which seems to be erroneous. Reciprocity can be considered a universally recognized norm of international law, recognized at the universal level, but it is not highly imperative. Comity has a doctrinal origin and is mainly understood as an international custom but still may have legislative fixation. Russian judicial practice is characterized by understanding comity as an international custom. Reciprocity has a customary legal origin and currently is enshrined in international treaties and national legislation. In Russian judicial practice, the principle of reciprocity is applied as a norm of international custom. This approach is correct, but the courts do not distinguish between the concepts of “conflict”, “material” and “procedural” reciprocity, which leads to direct violations of Russian law. In this article, comparative-legal, historical-legal, dogmatic and formal-logical methods are used. In conclusion, the authors propose that an information letter be prepared by the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in which, with examples from judicial practice, the principles of reciprocity and international comity are explained, the possibilities and limits of their application are determined, and parameters are established showing compliance with these principles by the courts of other States.

About the authors: Alexandra Kasatkina – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Deputy Head of the Department of Legal Regulation of Business, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia; Irina Get’man-Pavlova – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Department of Legal Regulation of Business, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia; Natalia Erpyleva – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Professor, Head of the Department of Legal Regulation of Business, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Erpyleva N., Get’man-Pavlova I., Kasatkina A. (2023) Ponimanie kategoriy vzaimnosti i mezhdunarodnoy vezhlivosti v rossiyskoy sudebnoy praktike [Understanding the categories of reciprocity and international comity in Russian judicial practice]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 94–119. (In Russian).


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