International Litigation Update: Developments Concerning the Alien Tort Statute and Personal Jurisdiction


In the span of less than a week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., a decision concerning the reach of the Alien Tort Statute, and granted certiorari in Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler Corp.,ii a case in which the Court will consider whether, and under what circumstances, the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process Clause permits U.S. courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over a parent company based on the jurisdictional contacts of its subsidiary. Each of these decisions will have major impacts on cross-border litigation in the United States.

The Alien Tort Statute – Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. -

In Kiobel, the Supreme Court held that the Alien Tort Statute – a one sentence statute adopted by the inaugural U.S. Congress in 1789 that confers jurisdiction on U.S. courts for tort claims brought by aliens for violations of customary international law – does not apply to conduct that occurs in a foreign nation. The Court’s ruling represents a dramatic retrenchment of federal court jurisdiction under the ATS, and is addressed to what has become the paradigm ATS claim: a claim against one or more corporations for alleged human rights violations as a result of political instability and/or violence abroad.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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