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5 Apr 2016

Michelle Harrison, EarthRights International, on IFI Governance

USA: IFC claims “absolute immunity” to avoid justice. But will it hold up in court?

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...The lawsuit, Jam v. International Finance Corporation, brought by EarthRights International on behalf of the communities, will likely require the court to determine whether, and under what circumstances, the IFC can be sued...The case has raised two major immunity questions. First, is the IFC entitled to “absolute immunity” or instead to the same “restrictive” immunity that currently applies to foreign governments (known as “foreign sovereign immunity”)? Second, even if the IFC is ordinarily deemed “absolutely immune,” has it nonetheless waived immunity to this suit in its Articles of Agreement?...The court concluded that it was required to find that the IFC is entitled “absolute immunity” based on previous decision from the DC Circuit...As to the question of waiver, the court ultimately determined that the IFC had not waived immunity in this case, noting that prior court decision have thus far only found immunity to be waived where the plaintiff has a commercial relationship with the IFC.....