Congresscritters threaten corporation with ATCA liability

Remember how we spent the summer hashing out whether the Alien Tort Claims Act applies to corporations? Remember how a circuit split you could drive a truck through (or run an oil pipeline through) has everyone wondering how and when the Supreme Court will handle it?

If you are one of 34 lawmakers who signed a letter to Spanish oil company Repsol yesterday, the answer is no.

The letter threatens a panoply of nasty consequences if Repsol cuts deals with Cuba to develop that country’s offshore oil reserves.

As to current law, Repsol may be in jeopardy of subjecting itself and its affiliates to criminal and civil liability in U.S. courts. Violations of the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD), the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Enforcement Act can lead to serious ramifications for individuals or businesses that deal with the Cuban regime.

The “may” language saves this statement from being completely baseless, but if you’re the least bit familiar with the Kiobel/Flomo/Doe line of cases, citing ATCA to threaten a corporation seems just a little … blustery, especially from that side of the political spectrum.

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About Charles Donefer

I am an attorney in New York City.
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