Over the past 15 years, there has been a sharp rise in lawsuits brought against American companies, as well as foreign companies with a substantial U.S. presence, that are premised on alleged personal or environmental injuries occurring abroad. These cases raise the question of whether U.S. courts should be the venue for cases concerning conduct occurring outside the territory of the United States. They have also been characterized by controversial and abusive tactics by plaintiffs and their lawyers.

Many of those transnational lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. by plaintiffs’ class action firms, public interest attorneys and non-governmental organizations.  Some have been filed in federal courts under the 200-year old Alien Tort Statute (ATS), while many more have been brought in state courts under common law theories of liability. 

These cases raise several concerns. One is the use of U.S. courts for adjudicating disputes that occurred outside of the country. It is a generally established principle that U.S. courts should not hear cases involving foreign conduct unless there is a significant nexus to the United States. By undermining this principle, these cases set a precedent that could be used to expose Americans to litigation in foreign courts over conduct occurring in the United States.

Equally troubling are the tactics used in these cases. According to ILR’s study Think Globally, Sue Locally, transnational cases are characterized by a number of features, including aggressive media tactics, organized protests and boycotts of corporate defendants, political pressure and, in some cases, outright fraud and abuse by plaintiffs’ lawyers. In the major transnational case against Chevron in Ecuador, four federal courts have found the proceedings tainted by fraud.

In April 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum that claims of wrongful conduct on foreign soil cannot be brought in U.S. courts under the ATS.  This ruling has substantially limited the use of the ATS in transnational cases, but does not deter cases brought under state common law. A complete list of lawsuits against corporations under the Alien Tort Statute can be found here



As Kiobel Turns Two: How the Supreme Court is Leaving the Details to Lower Courts

August 11, 2015 | This paper explores the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court's Kiobel decision on Alien Tort Statute (ATS) litigation in lower courts, and how lower courts have struggled to determine whether Kiobel permits U.S. corporations to be sued under the ATS for alleged torts in foreign countries.

Federal Cases from Foreign Places: How the Supreme Court Has Limited Foreign Disputes From Flooding U.S. Courts

October 21, 2014 | This collection of essays examines the shifting legal landscape of federal claims by foreign plaintiffs in the federal courts and focuses on the most common statutes invoked by foreign plaintiffs, as well as the threshold issues of personal jurisdiction and pleading standards that govern such suits.

All Results for Transnational

In the News Today - July 20, 2017

July 20, 2017 | News and Blog

Asset manager Connection Capital has secured its largest ever fundraise – an 8 million pound investment into litigation funder Therium. Read More »

In the News Today - June 29, 2017

June 29, 2017 | News and Blog

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart Bernstein ruled that the administrator of Gawker Media LLC's bankruptcy estate can examine Peter Thiel and his relationship with a lawyer, Charles J. Harder, over their potential role in Gawker's demise. Read More »

In the News Today - June 15, 2017

June 15, 2017 | News and Blog

Bringing TPLF ‘Out of the Shadows': ILR wants to "bring third-party litigation funding arrangements out of the shadows," writes attorney Kendall W. Harrison. Read More »

In the News Today - June 8, 2017

June 08, 2017 | News and Blog

In a recent opinion piece, Lord Faulks urges the government of the United Kingdom to "consider a growing and almost unregulated phenomenon that is in danger or undermining the integrity" of the legal system. Read More »

Pressure Mounts on Third-Party Funders in the UK

June 07, 2017 | News and Blog

Recently, the Royal Bank of Scotland successfully obtained orders "forcing claimants to disclose the identity of their funders," writes the Law Society Gazette. Read More »

Litigation Finance Arrangements Need to be Disclosed

June 06, 2017 | News and Blog

With the support of more than two dozen business groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform sent a letter to the office of the U.S. courts asking the committee on rules of practice and procedure to require disclosure of third-party financing arrangements in all civil cases filed in federal court, writes the Wall Street Journal. Read More »

In the News Today - June 5, 2017

June 05, 2017 | News and Blog

More than a dozen business groups have proposed an amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require the disclosure of outside financing arrangements. Read More »

In the News Today - June 2, 2017

June 02, 2017 | News and Blog

Plaintiffs' attorneys asked a federal judge to sanction Sanofi, the defendant, for filing a motion filled with "unfounded accusations" in an attempt to get information on outside funding for the litigation. Read More »

Are the Days of Undisclosed Third-Party Litigation Funding Numbered?

June 02, 2017 | News and Blog

The business of bankrolling lawsuits has mushroomed from a niche practice into a worldwide, multibillion-dollar industry in less than a decade. This happened despite the fact that courts, defendants and even some plaintiffs have little or no awareness of whether the lawsuits they are involved in are underwritten by financers because there are no disclosure requirements. Read More »

Irish Court Deals Blow to Third-Party Funders

May 24, 2017 | News and Blog

Yesterday, Ireland's Supreme Court delivered a "blow" to the third party litigation funding (TPLF) industry, according to the Law Society Gazette. Read More »

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