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22 Oct 2007

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Veolia & Alstom lawsuit (re Jerusalem rail project)

Status: CLOSED

Date lawsuit was filed
22 Oct 2007
Racial & ethnic groups
Location of Filing: France
Location of Incident: Israel
Type of Litigation: Transnational


Alstom France Diversified/Conglomerates


Pour la version française de ce profil, cliquez ici.

In October 2007, Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) filed a lawsuit against Alstom and Veolia in the Tribunal de Grande Instance (Nanterre, France).  The plaintiffs alleged that the companies’ involvement in a consortium which contracted with the Israeli Government in July 2005 to construct and operate a light rail project in Jerusalem violated international law.  City-Pass Consortium was made up of Alstom, Alstom Transport, Veolia, and four Israeli companies.

The plaintiffs claimed the companies’ involvement in the light rail project contravenes international law by allegedly aiding and abetting Israel’s occupation and commission of war crimes, in relation to West Jerusalem.  The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ actions violate international humanitarian law and certain sections of the French Civil Code.  The plaintiffs sought an injunction to cancel the contract and halt construction of the light rail project.  In October 2007, the corporate defendants moved to dismiss the case and questioned the admissibility of AFPS’ requests to nullify the contract, arguing that it was outside the scope of French jurisdiction.

In April 2009, without reaching the merits of the case, the Nanterre Tribunal ruled that it was within its jurisdiction to hear the case.  It also ruled that the PLO could not be accepted as a co-plaintiff.  The Tribunal underlined that the defendants were not in a position to plead immunity, as corporate entities are not included as subjects of sovereign immunity.

Alstom and its subsidiary Alstom Transport, appealed the decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance in November 2009.  Veolia did not contest the ruling; it sold its shares in the City Pass Consortium to Dan Bus Company in September 2009.

In December 2009, the Appeals Court upheld the rulings of the Tribunal de Grande Instance; emphasising that it had jurisdiction to hear the case.  In February 2010, Alstom appealed this decision (particularly, the jurisdiction of the French courts) to the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation).  In February 2011, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal.

In May 2011, the Nanterre Tribunal ruled on the merits and rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments to cancel the contract.  AFPS and PLO appealed the decision.  The Appeals Court decision of 22 March 2013 declared that PLO could be accepted as co-plaintiff, but ruled the suit was inadmissible.  The court found that the international agreements in question create obligations between states, and could not be used to hold two private companies liable.  The court ordered AFPS and PLO to pay € 30,000 to each of the three companies to cover their expenses during the lawsuit.

The construction work of the tram has already been completed, and the tram started to operate in summer 2011.



Association France Palestine Solidarité: