October 17, 2011
Supreme Court Grants Cert in Kiobel, Deciding to Hear Corporate ATS Case
Posted by Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein
The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., an Alien Tort Statute (ATS) case that squarely presents the question of whether corporate liability exists under the statute. Since June, when the plaintiffs in Kiobel filed their petition for certiorari, there have been significant developments around the question of corporate ATS liability as two courts of appeals rejected the Kiobel position. In taking the case, the Supreme Court should resolve this split in the lower courts. The hearing will be during the 2011-2012 term, and a decision can be expected by June 2012. Kiobel involves allegations against Royal Dutch/Shell for its complicity in egregious human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings, in the mid-1990s in Nigeria. Of note, the Court combined argument in Kiobel with Mohamad v. Rajoub, which poses the question of whether corporations may be held liable under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA).