Supreme Court Rules Foreign Corporations Not Liable Under Alien Tort Statute

April 25, 2018

On April 24, 2018, the Supreme Court held in Jesner et al. v. Arab Bank, PLC that the Alien Tort Statue (“ATS”), which has been extensively used during recent decades by foreign plaintiffs to bring lawsuits in U.S. courts for alleged international human rights law violations, may not be used to impose liability on foreign corporations.

The plurality in the 5-4 decision concluded that the judiciary, without explicit authorization from Congress, does not have the authority to impose corporate liability in this arena, as to do so would implicate significant foreign policy concerns. Subject to the enactment of new legislation, this decision terminates the possibility of any viable ATS litigation against foreign corporations.