Veolia & Alstom lawsuit (re Jerusalem rail project)
In October 2007, Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) filed a lawsuit against Alstom and Veolia in the Tribunal de Grande Instance (Nanterre, France). The plaintiffs alleged that the companies’ involvement in a consortium which contracted with the Israeli Government in July 2005 to construct and operate a light rail project in Jerusalem violated international law. City-Pass Consortium was made up of Alstom, Alstom Transport, Veolia, and four Israeli companies.
The plaintiffs claimed the companies’ involvement in the light rail project contravenes international law by allegedly aiding and abetting Israel’s occupation and commission of war crimes, in relation to West Jerusalem. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ actions violate international humanitarian law and certain sections of the French Civil Code. The plaintiffs sought an injunction to cancel the contract and halt construction of the light rail project. In October 2007, the corporate defendants moved to dismiss the case and questioned the admissibility of AFPS’ requests to nullify the contract, arguing that it was outside the scope of French jurisdiction.
In April 2009, without reaching the merits of the case, the Nanterre Tribunal ruled that it was within its jurisdiction to hear the case. It also ruled that the PLO could not be accepted as a co-plaintiff. The Tribunal underlined that the defendants were not in a position to plead immunity, as corporate entities are not included as subjects of sovereign immunity.
Alstom and its subsidiary Alstom Transport, appealed the decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance in November 2009. Veolia did not contest the ruling; it sold its shares in the City Pass Consortium to Dan Bus Company in September 2009.
In December 2009, the Appeals Court upheld the rulings of the Tribunal de Grande Instance; emphasising that it had jurisdiction to hear the case. In February 2010, Alstom appealed this decision (particularly, the jurisdiction of the French courts) to the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation). In February 2011, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal.
In May 2011, the Nanterre Tribunal ruled on the merits and rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments to cancel the contract. AFPS and PLO appealed the decision. The Appeals Court decision of 22 March 2013 declared that PLO could be accepted as co-plaintiff, but ruled the suit was inadmissible. The court found that the international agreements in question create obligations between states, and could not be used to hold two private companies liable. The court ordered AFPS and PLO to pay € 30,000 to each of the three companies to cover their expenses during the lawsuit.
The construction work of the tram has already been completed, and the tram started to operate in summer 2011.
- [FR] “Alstom: conforté par la justice pour le tramway de Jérusalem" Cercle Finance, 27 mars 2013
- [FR] “La décision du tribunal français sur le tramway de Jérusalem ne doit pas être acceptée”, Daniel Machover & Adri Nieuwhof, Electronic Intifada 29 juin 2011
- “French firm contests ruling on rail project in Occupied Jerusalem”, Abbas Al Lawati, Gulf News, 13 Feb 2010
- “Jerusalem’s first light rail is test case in Palestinian boycott campaign”, Karin Laub, Canadian Press, 29 Jan 2010
- “French Court to Hear Israeli Tram Case”, David Gauthier–Villars, Wall Street Journal, 17 Apr 2009
- “PLO disputes Jerusalem rail plan”, Rory McCarthy, Angelique Chrisafis, Guardian, 26 Oct 2007
- [FR] “Tramway de Jérusalem: la Cour d’Appel de Versailles tranche en faveur d’Alstom”, 27 mars 2013
- “Jerusalem tramway: French justice rules out the legal action against Alstom”, 27 Mar 2013
Association France Palestine Solidarité:
- [FR] Tramway colonial : un jugement incompréhensible de la cour d’appel, 25 Mar 2013
- [FR] L’état des procédures engagées sur le tramway de Jérusalem, 4 Dec 2012
- [FR] L’état des procédures engagées par l’AFPS et l’OLP concernant le tramway de Jérusalem, 19 Sep 2012
- [FR] L’AFPS et l’OLP font appel du jugement du TGI de Nanterre du 30 mai 2011, 11 Jul 2011
- [FR] Tramway de Jérusalem : le dossier peut être jugé sur le fond au Tribunal de grande instance de Nanterre, 9 Feb 2010
- [FR] Action en justice de l’Afps (et de l’OLP) contre la construction et l’exploitation d’un tramway à Jérusalem-Est : suite à l’audience du 9 novembre 2009, 3 Dec 2009
- [FR] Cour d’appel de Versailles, France, [PDF],Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), L’Organisation de Libération de la Palestine (OLP) c. S.A. Alstom, S.A. Alstom Transport, S.A. Veolia , 22 mars 2013
- [FR] Tribunal de Grande Instance, Nanterre, France [PDF]Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), L’Organisation de Libération de la Palestine (OLP) c. S.A. Alstom, S.A. Alstom Transport, S.A. Veolia, 30 mai 2011