United States Court Of International Trade

United States Court of International Trade

The U.S. Court of International Trade and its predecessor, the United States Customs Court (1938-1980), were created to try cases related to international trade.


A specialized court dealing with matters arising out of tariff laws and the imposition of duties and imposts. The court was created in 1980 and replaced the Customs Court. It is composed of a chief judge and eight associates. The judges are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate. No more than five of the judges may be affiliated with any one political party. The Customs Court was given constitutional status by Congress in 1956; thus the court’s judges have life tenure and are protected by the Article III bar against reducing salaries. The court is headquartered in New York City, but it has authority to hear and decide cases at any major port of entry in the United States. A panel of three judges typically sits for each case before the court. Decisions of this court may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. (1)

Legal Materials

The Court’s web site (www.cit.uscourts.gov) provides contact information, court rules, biographical information and special procedures for individual judges, the court calendar, forms and slip opinions back to 1999. Docket sheets and electronically filed pleadings are available through the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system.

Opinions: Customs Court opinions were reported officially in Custom Court Reports, and Court of International Trade opinions are reported officially in Court of International Trade Reports. Court of International Trade opinions are also reported in the Federal Supplement, Customs Bulletin and Decisions and International Trade Reporter Decisions.

The Court posts slip opinions free back to 1999. For older cases and the best searching, Westlaw (FINT-CIT) has Customs Court and Court of International Trade opinions back to 1938. Lexis has Customs Court opinions from 1962 to 1980 and Court of International Trade opinions from 1980 (INTLAW;CASES). Bloomberg Law has searchable opinions from 1949, and Versuslaw has searchable opinions from 1999. Very recent cases (past 2 years) are also available via FDsys.

Analysis and Relevance

The United States Court of International Trade is the trial court for private citizens and corporations to litigate issues involving duties, valuation of imports, and regulations on imported merchandise. The Customs Court Act of 1980 changed the name of the court and defined its jurisdiction over civil cases arising out of import transactions. The court has the power of law and equity comparable to a U.S. district court. This court relieves the district court, which would hear such cases in its absence, from hearing frequent and highly specialized matters involving import classifications and valuations. (2)


Notes and References

  1. Definition of United States Court of International Trade from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

See Also






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