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17 Oct 2011

Tony Mauro, National Law Journal [USA]

Court will hear alien tort, First Amendment cases [USA]

The Supreme Court amped up its argument docket...by agreeing to decide...whether corporations can be sued in U.S. courts for faraway human rights violations...The Court granted review in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, one of...lawsuits in U.S. courts involving foreign activities that have been a thorn in the side of major international corporations. Twelve Nigerians brought the case under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute, claiming that the oil company participated in torture, killings and other abuses to suppress protests against oil exploration in Nigeria in the 1990s. A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that, as a jurisdictional matter, corporations cannot be sued under the law...The petition for review called the 2nd Circuit decision a "radical overhaul" of the application of the law, creating a "blanket immunity for corporations engaged or complicit in universally condemned human rights violations."...Shell, represented by Rowan Wilson of Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York, asserted there was no circuit conflict, and urged the justices to deny review.