Say, Bob, purchases a consumer product in the State of California where he is a resident for the purposes of California law although not a resident of the U.S., a State for the purposes of the 1961 and ‘63 Conventions (on Diplomatic and Consular Relations respectively).

The sale turns out to be the result of formal policy-driven consumer fraud of such scale upon which Bob shall prevail on causes of action against the manufacturer, distributor, and/or seller under Business & Professions Code § 17200 $ 17500. The anticompetitive effect of the practices are of such magnitude that it substantially direly affect businesses of sending State operating in California and the U.S.. The unlawful practices harm the sending State.

  1. a. For the purposes of receiving legal aid or legal representation as an indigent or destitute consumer/buyer of the consumer goods to bring, is Bob entitled to seek the assistance of the consulates or embassies of the State of his nationality or nationalities that is or are a party to the above Conventions and are a “State” and “sending State” in the U.S. for the purposes of the above Conventions to bring any actions against the manufacturer, distributor and/or seller in a California/U.S. court?

.1. b. If (1.a.) yes, may he also receive such legal aid or legal representations?

  1. Does it make a difference if the scope of the law suit is sufficiently broad that it may doom the future of the manufacturer for systemic fraudulent practices etc.?

  2. May it be deemed by any means espionage if Bob never was in the employ or a contractor of the manufacturer, distributor or seller nor did he obtained any information by any means illegal, but as a result of his capacity as a consumer, buyer and/or party to the sales contract?

  • Do you mean "entitled to seek assistance" (request), or "entitled to receive assistance"?
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 23:18
  • For what purpose under California law is Bob a resident, and for what purpose under federal law is Bob not a resident? There is no unitary concept of "residence" under federal law, so it is possible to be a resident for some purposes and not for others.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 9:09
  • Further, having just re-read the 1963 convention, I don't see any reason to think that Bob's residence status would be relevant.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 9:28
  • par. (a) of Article 5 the Convention, and par. (b) of Art. 3 of the 1961 Convention on Diplomatic Relations each provide that their function includes: "[P]rotecting in the receiving State the interests of the sending State and of its nationals, both individuals and bodies corporate, within the limits permitted by international law". I'm sure there are limitations that may exclude the sending State from getting involved if the national is also a resident or national of the receiving State - and the receiving State would claim the national is "barking up the wrong tree"
    – kisspuska
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 18:33

2 Answers 2


In case of fraud, the matter may also be a crime. In that case: Not only does the '63 Convention provide that the sending State's national may be represented generally in matters when they are detained, arrested etc., but, for example, under Community law, if Bob is a citizen of the EU (per paragraph (1) of COUNCIL DIRECTIVE (EU) 2015/637; "Citizenship of the Union is the fundamental status of nationals of the Member States."), per TFEU Article 23, and FREU Article 46 and thereunder the provisions of the European Commission, the citizen may receive consular assistance if "being a victim of crime".

Now, it would be a question of which Member State has precedent where they actually provided legal assistance or representation to their national in any receiving State of their diplomatic missions or consular posts, and if EU citizen Bob has any reason to seek the diplomatic or consular assistance of another Member State's consular post or diplomatic mission.



Consular assistance is far more limited than you think it is. For example, for , among the things the consulate can’t help you with is:

  • intervene in another country’s court proceedings or legal matters including employment disputes, commercial disputes, criminal cases, and family law matters or child custody disputes
  • Let's assume Bob is a citizen of a sending State that does provide all of the above and/or legal aid and/or representation that is required for the dispute.
    – HJay
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 0:06
  • @HJay so Bob is a citizen of Fantasyland? No real state provides that level of assistance.
    – Dale M
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 0:21
  • @@Dale M not necessarily, but this is all just a hypo for the purposes of the questions. Which relate to (1) seeking and/or obtaining legal aid and/or services without violation U.S. law and (2) specifically U.S. laws on corporate or other forms of espionage.
    – HJay
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 0:33
  • (Updated the question regardless)
    – HJay
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 0:34
  • 1
    On the other hand, as a foreigner who is a resident in the USA, Bob will likely have many of the rights as all other residents, like US citizens, and may very well get assistance from the US or state government if a US citizen would. So Bob is likely just barking up the wrong tree. Bob may not even have to be a resident.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 10:26

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