US Govt. files amicus brief with Supreme Court in case against Shell supporting plaintiffs' argument that Alien Tort Claims Act permits corporate liability

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Article
21 December 2011

Breaking News: USG Brief in Favor of Kiobel Plaintiffs

Author: Beth van Schaack, Santa Clara Law School in IntLawGrrls Blog

The United States has weighed in on the side of the plaintiffs in the Kiobel case, arguing that it is for the federal courts exercising their "residual" common law powers to determine when corporate liability is appropriate…In other words, it is not necessary for international law to provide specifically for corporate liability. In any case, the brief notes, international law norms do not identify whether they apply to natural or to legal persons and corporations can be liable for those international law violations that apply to other non-state actors.

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Article
21 December 2011

[PDF] Kiobel, et al. v. Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Co., et al. - Brief for the United States as amicus curiae supporting petitioners

Author: US Department of Justice, US Department of State & US Department of Commerce

This case presents the question whether a corporation can be held liable in a federal common law action brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS)…The United States has an interest in the proper application of the ATS because such actions can have implications for the Nation’s foreign and commercial relations and for the enforcement of international law…The court of appeals erred in characterizing the question whether a corporation can be held liable in a federal common law action based on the ATS as one of subject-matter jurisdiction…The merits question before this Court is narrow: whether a corporation can be held liable in a federal common law action based on the ATS…This Court therefore should address only the corporate-liability issue.

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