Understanding Multinational Corporate Liability for Violations of International Law under the US Alien Tort Claims Act
Laney Vazquez, Litigation Attorney, BP America Inc., USA
Over the past 30 years, litigants in the United States have resurrected the long-dormant Alien Tort Statute (ATS) in order to bring civil lawsuits in US federal courts against multinational corporations alleging violations of international law committed abroad. Increasingly, these suits have attempted to hold multinationals liable for human rights atrocities that multinationals, either individually or in concert with or in aid of state actors, are alleged to have committed. This paper seeks to serve as a guide to multinational corporate liability under the ATS. It will analyze the evolution of the jurisprudence under the ATS and the related Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA), as well as common defenses to claims made under both acts. It will also offer practical advice to in-house practitioners for avoiding legal exposure in the US under both acts, as well as thoughts regarding how the legal landscape may change under the Obama administration.
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