(CN) – Legal observers say they are puzzled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s call for a second round of arguments concerning corporate liability for overseas wrongdoing.
The Nigerian plaintiffs in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum claim that the oil giant colluded with their government to torture environmental activists in the country’s Ogoni region. But before the case could be argued on its merits, Royal Dutch got the case tossed on procedural grounds, saying that U.S. courts had no business examining the case. The 2nd Circuit went one step further in September 2010, holding that corporations could not be sued under the Alien Torts Act.
In a minority opinion, Circuit Judge Pierre Leval told his colleagues that their decision would open the floodgates to corporate impunity abroad. “So long as they incorporate (or act in the form of a trust), businesses will now be free to trade in or exploit slaves, employ mercenary armies to do dirty work for despots, perform genocides or operate torture prisons for a despot’s political opponents, or engage in piracy – all without civil liability to victims,” Leval wrote. “By adopting the corporate form, such an enterprise could have hired itself out to operate Nazi extermination camps or the torture chambers of Argentina’s dirty war, immune from civil liability to its victims.”
The case went up to the Supreme Court, which seemed divided on traditional lines at a Feb. 28 hearing ...Zum vollständigen Artikel