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7 Nov 2018

Sasha Chavkin, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Commentary: US Court ruling on Intl. Finance Corp. immunity from lawsuits could have limited impact even if decided in favour of the plaintiffs

"Indian fishing community tests World Bank immunity before US Supreme Court", 1 Nov 2018

[Last week,] the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments...on whether the World Bank and other international organizations enjoy absolute immunity from U.S. lawsuits...

The legal case hinges largely on a 1945 law, passed to apply to the United Nations and other international bodies, which granted these organizations “the same immunity from suit” as foreign governments...The plaintiffs argued that loans from the IFC should be considered as commercial activities that fall outside the protection of sovereign immunity...

The case centered on the...Tata Mundra power plant, built by the...the Tata Group and backed by $450 million in loans from the IFC...The IFC refused to consider them as “project-affected people” entitled under its rules to be consulted about the project and compensated for any damages

Ultimately, even if the Supreme Court decides in favor of the fishing community, it could have limited impact.  The high court’s ruling will determine only if the lawsuit may proceed in U.S. lower courts, and, if it does, those courts could decide that the plaintiffs have not proven their claims or that the IFC’s actions in the Tata Mundra case are protected even if its immunity is not absolute...