U.S. Supreme Court Forecloses Non-U.S. Corporate Liability Under the Alien Torts Statute: Non-U.S. Corporations May Not Be Sued by Non-U.S. Plaintiffs Under the Alien Torts Statute for Alleged Violations of International Law

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - April 25, 2018

On April 24, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank, holding that non-U.S. corporations cannot be held liable under the Alien Torts Statute (“ATS”). In that case, non-U.S. victims of terrorist attacks abroad sued a non-U.S. bank under the ATS for allegedly processing U.S. dollar transactions that aided foreign terrorists through the bank’s New York bank branch. The Court held that the non-U.S. bank could not be sued under the ATS, because the ATS did not expressly permit claims against non-U.S. corporations, and courts should be reluctant to expand a judicially created cause of action absent clear direction from Congress. The decision should prove to limit significantly ATS actions.