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Supremes will consider bad acts overseas

This year’s fabled First Monday in October when the U.S. Supreme Court opens its new Term will be especially interesting for those of us who follow international business issues. The first case scheduled for oral argument in the new term is Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.

The case began when Esther Kiobel, a citizen of Nigeria, filed in U.S. court on behalf of herself and her late husband, Dr. Barinem Kiobel and other Nigerians under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute. The suit claimed that three international oil companies had arranged for the Nigerian government to use its military forces to put down resistance to the companies’ drilling for oil in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta in Nigeria.

The case was originally heard by SCOTUS last February, when some of the Justices raised the question of whether the Alien Tort Statute actually permitted U.S. courts to hear lawsuits that were aimed at violations of international law, when those occurred entirely on foreign soil. The Court postponed review, and the case was re-briefed over the summer.

10 a.m. Monday, October 1st the Court will hear oral arguments. Lyle Dennison of the SCOTUSblog has an excellent summary of the background, issues and arguments for each side here. Links to all relevant documents including all the various amici briefs are also found on the scotusblog here.


Elizabeth Spahn is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog.

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