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The Moment of Truth Has Come – US Supreme Court to Decide whether the Alien Tort Statute “Categorically Forecloses Corporate Liability"

On 3 April 2017, the US Supreme Court granted certiorari in Jesner v Arab Bank, PLC.  The issue to be decided is whether the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) “categorically forecloses corporate liability”.  If the Supreme Court decides that the ATS does indeed categorically foreclose corporate liability, it will be the end of ATS-based business and human rights litigation in the United States.  This is a big deal...As disappointing as the Kiobel decision was for the human rights community,...the principle that corporations can be sued under the Alien Tort Statute was intact.  The Court refused to address the question directly but it is hard to reconcile the Kiobel decision with the idea that corporations cannot be sued at all under the Alien Tort Statute.  By noting for example that “it would reach too far to say that mere corporate presence” in the United States is enough to subject a defendant to ATS liability, the Supreme Court implied that something more than corporate presence could subject corporate defendants to such liability.  If it was the Court’s intention to reject corporate liability under the ATS altogether, why making this point?  Logically, therefore, the US Supreme Court should decide that the ATS does not categorically foreclose corporate liability...

Part of the following stories

Arab Bank lawsuit (re terrorist attacks in Israel)

US Supreme Court rules that foreign corporations cannot be sued for human rights abuses under the Alien Tort Statute