ICC slams US Alien Tort Statute

THE INTERNATIONAL Chamber of Commerce (ICC) wants the European Commission to call for changes to the US’s 1789 Alien Tort Statute, which allows non-US companies to be sued in US courts for alleged human rights, labour and environmental offences committed in third countries.

The ICC is particularly worried about liability claims brought in US courts “against a large number of companies” for losses by non-whites in apartheid South Africa. Other EU companies facing different claims include Shell and French rail operator SNCF. In a letter to Commission President Romano Prodi, ICC Secretary General Maria Livanos Cattaui said the practice was “an unacceptable extraterritorial extension of US jurisdiction”.

She asked him “to add your voice to those of European governments to encourage the US government to continue its efforts to stop the abusive use of this ancient statute against EU companies”.

She added: “The growing number of cases filed in US courts is causing anxiety to European business and has already inflicted significant litigation costs on many EU companies.