Commentary: US Alien Tort Statute & corporate liability in Arab Bank lawsuit over alleged complicity in financing terrorism
“An introduction to the Alien Tort Statute and corporate liability: In Plain English”, 24 Jul 2017
…[O]n October 11, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case brought by victims of terrorist attacks…under the Alien Tort Statute [ATS], a federal law that gives federal courts jurisdiction over “any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States”.
…[P]laintiffs [have] increasingly relied on the ATS as the basis for lawsuits filed in U.S. courts…against multinational corporations for their role in “aiding and abetting” human-rights violations…[I]n Jesner v. Arab Bank[,] the plaintiffs…contend that Arab Bank “violated the law of nations insofar as it financed terrorism…”. In their view…the history and purpose of the ATS…reinforce that the ATS applies equally to corporations…[S]enators emphasize that the ATS is the only avenue for civil lawsuits “against financial entities that use U.S. operations to aid terrorist attacks on foreign nationals overseas.”
…Arab Bank counters that …U.S. law does not allow corporations to be held liable in similar areas of the law…The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups echo…the bank’s arguments against corporate liability…