Business Hails Supreme Court Ruling on Alien Tort Statute
NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwired) -- 04/17/13 -- The United States
Council for International Business (USCIB) hailed today's ruling by
the U.S. Supreme Court largely insulating companies from lawsuits
under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), an 18th-century law used in
recent years by activists to lodge numerous suits alleging corporate
complicity in human rights abuses overseas.
"After many years of sounding the alarm against abuse of the ATS, we
are extremely gratified that the court has handed down such a clear
and well reasoned ruling," stated USCIB President and CEO Peter M.
Robinson. "The justices have essentially shut the door to further use
of the Alien Tort Statute to target companies based on alleged
activity without any clear connection to the United States."
The court unanimously upheld a lower court's ruling dismissing a
lawsuit accusing two foreign-based units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc of
aiding and abetting human rights abuses in Nigeria, although the
justices differed in the details of their reasoning. The majority
said the ATS generally should not apply to conduct beyond U.S.
For over a decade, USCIB and other business groups have warned
against abuse of the ATS as a vehicle to lodge spurious lawsuits
against companies over allegations of conduct that often bore little,
if any, connection to the United States. In some cases brought under
the ATS, there has been little connection to any corporate activity
whatsoever, with companies having operations in a country effectively
serving as stand-ins for governments alleged to have committed
More broadly, business has expressed concern over the
extraterritorial application of national laws in general, including
in the area of human rights, and has called for clearer international
human rights standards and better enforcement of national laws as an
alternative. USCIB joined in filing an amicus brief in support of
Shell in the Kiobel case.
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation,
sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by
international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members
include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms
from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of
the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading
international business organizations, USCIB provides business views
to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to
facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.
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