19 April 2013
Judgment in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum
In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) unanimously dismissed claims brought by Nigerians against Royal Dutch Petroleum under the Alien Torts Statute (ATS).
The claimants, now residing in the United States (US), had alleged that the subsidiary company Shell Oil aided and abetted the Nigerian government in torturing and killing people who protested the company’s activities during the 1990s. The SCOTUS held that the presumption that the ATS has no extraterritorial reach was not rebutted in this case, as there was no sufficient nexus with the US.
Amongst the first reactions, it was noted that this decision will likely bar most of the corporate liability suits brought in the US for activities abroad.