Extraterritorial Application Law and Legal Definition

An extraterritorial application of a statute involves the regulation of conduct beyond U.S. borders. Extraterritoriality comes into play when the law endeavors to regulate conduct of persons with respect to place of occurrence of the event subjected to the regulation. While minimal contact with the United States will not automatically render conduct domestic, courts have also held that every transaction that has a foreign element represents an extraterritorial application of United States laws. Under the protective principle of international law, the United States Congress may assert extraterritorial jurisdiction over vessels in the high seas that are engaged in conduct that 'has a potentially adverse effect on United States’ interests.