Supreme Court Asked to Stop Abuse of Alien Tort Statute

International Chamber of Commerce
January 26, 2004

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has joined with major American business groups in calling on the United States Supreme Court to clarify a controversial 200 year-old US statute and return it to its "proper jurisdictional role." In an amicus brief filed with the court, the business groups cited the proliferation of lawsuits lodged on spurious grounds against multinational companies under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). They said the law increasingly interfered with international investment flows and US foreign relations. The brief said the act had been misconstrued to provide a private right of action where Congress envisaged none when it adopted the law. "It is now up to the Supreme Court to bring clarity to this matter," said Thomas Niles, President of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), ICC's affiliate in the US. Mr Niles added: "Misuse of the Alien Tort Statute has begun to spin out of control in the federal courts. Not only does this clog up our judicial system, it threatens to make it virtually impossible for companies, foreign or American, to invest anywhere in the world for fear that they will be subjected to frivolous lawsuits in US courts." The amicus brief was submitted in the case Jose Francisco Sosa v. Humberto Alvarez-Machain, et al. In addition to ICC and USCIB, signatories include the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Foreign Trade Council and the National Association of Manufacturers.

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