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Commentary: Recent decisions show willingness of Canadian courts to hold companies liable for overseas abuses of intl. human rights norms

Author: Michael G. Congiu, John Kloosterman, Stefan Marculewicz, Aaron Saltzman & Lavanga Wijekoon; Littler, on JD Supra (USA), Published on: 17 February 2017

"Advancing Human Rights Claims Based on Global Supply Chain Activities: Recent Developments in California and Canada", 15 Feb 2017

Courts in California and Canada have emerged as testing grounds for advancing claims of forced labor in global supply chains...Over the past several years, non-Canadian plaintiffs have filed multiple civil actions in Canada against multinational companies that are based or incorporated in Canada on the theory that international norms...form a standard of care that, when violated, constitutes actionable negligence...In Nevsun and Garcia, Canadian courts have signaled a willingness to permit non-Canadian plaintiffs to pursue monetary damages against Canadian-based multinational companies based on violations that allegedly occurred on foreign soil...[T]he Nevsun opinion suggests that Canadian law could allow foreign plaintiffs to pursue private rights of action against Canadian companies based on violations of customary international law...[T]he Canadian cases suggest that it is increasingly important that multinational companies monitor their supply chains, or they could face litigation at home over alleged malfeasance...Plaintiffs will likely be heartened by these developments...and rely on them to further transform “soft law” into “hard law” in support of their efforts to impose international norms...as a standard of care for multinationals operating overseas.

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Related companies: Costco Nevsun Tahoe Resources (part of Pan American Silver)