The Alien Tort Statute

Inside Counsel
07.21.15
In this article, Dawn Murphy-Johnson discusses recent high-profile cases that have brought the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) into the spotlight. The ATS gives U.S. district courts jurisdiction over "any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." The Supreme Court's Kiobel decision reigned in the extraterritorial scope of the ATS, but "other cases show that the statute still has enough reach to expose U.S. corporations operating overseas to costly litigation and potential reputational damage. In light of these possibilities, a strong human rights due diligence program is essential to mitigate those risks," Murphy-Johnson said. "Risk management becomes important, especially in locations where human rights issues might be more prevalent," and an "effective due diligence program could prevent human rights abuses from occurring, which would avoid potentially time-intensive and costly situations -- as well as increase the confidence of consumers who are increasingly aware of and concerned about the human rights impacts of business operations."
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