Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum – Amici Brief of Australian International Law Scholars

Today a number of Australian international lawyers filed a U.S. Supreme Court amici brief in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.  The case concerns a challenge to the 1789 Alien Tort Statute (ATS) which gives the District Courts jurisdiction over “an civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”  28 U.S.C. § 1350. The ATS has become one the most significant ways by which individuals who have suffered gross violations of human rights can get relief.  After oral argument in February, the case was restored to the calendar for supplemental briefing on the issue of whether, and under what circumstances, U.S. Courts have jurisdiction under the ATS “for violations of the law of nations occurring in the sovereign territory of other states.”  They Australian international lawyers decided to get involved because Australia, in two prior cases, has erroneously argued that international law does not permit U.S. Courts to to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction under the ATS.  That briefing by Australia has been relied on in this case and this amici brief attempts to set the record straight.

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