JPMorgan Chase Bank v. Traffic Stream (BVI) Infrastructure Ltd., 536 U.S. 88, 6 (2002)

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INFRASTRUCTURE LTD. Opinion of the Court

law, a corporation has the nationality of the state under the laws of which the corporation is organized"). In spite of this general rule of corporate citizenship, this case presents two issues about the application of the statute to Traffic Stream: whether Traffic Stream has been incorporated under the laws of a "foreign state" given the BVI's status as an Overseas Territory, and whether the BVI's corporate citizens are "citizens or subjects" within the meaning of 1332(a)(2).


The argument that the status of the BVI renders the statute inapplicable begins by assuming that Traffic Stream, organized under BVI law, must be a citizen or subject of the BVI alone. Since the BVI is a British Overseas Territory, unrecognized by the United States Executive Branch as an independent foreign state, it is supposed to follow that for purposes of alienage jurisdiction Traffic Stream is not a citizen or subject of a "foreign state" within the meaning of 1332(a)(2).

Even on the assumption, however, that a foreign state must be diplomatically recognized by our own Government to qualify as such under the jurisdictional statute (an issue we need not decide here), we have never held that the requisite status as citizen or subject must be held directly from a formally recognized state, as distinct from such a state's legal dependency. On the contrary, a consideration of the relationships of the BVI and the recognized state of the United Kingdom convinces us that any such distinction would be entirely beside the point of the statute providing alienage jurisdiction.


The current BVI Constitution was established when the Crown of the United Kingdom, in the exercise of power granted by the West Indies Act, 1962, c. 19, 5(1), issued the Virgin Islands (Constitution) Order 1976, SI 1976/2145. Under that order, the United Kingdom exercises pervasive

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