"So long as they incorporate, businesses will now be free to trade in or exploit slaves, employ mercenary armies to do dirty work for despots, perform genocides or operate torture prisons for a despot’s political opponents, or engage in piracy—all without civil liability to victims."
US Second Circuit Judge Pierre Leval
Is this some notorious decision in the manner of Dred Scott from an ugly and unenlightened past of robber barons and organized tyranny? Yes, and no.
Is BP incorporated in England or the States? Perhaps Mr. Clegg has a card to play here in adopting the US precedent of corporate sovereignty as long as they are inflicting sufficiently heinous damage on foreigners. There does seem to be some historical precedent for this approach with the East India company, for example. Destroying the vitality of the Gulf of Mexico seems heinous enough so that only an individual or two could possibly be liable. And they are liable to be someone rather low on the corporate ladder, and very liable to be thrown under a bus for the corporate good. I can imagine Tony Hayward playing the hapless and barely involved imbecile effectively on the witness stand. And if the Skilling amnesia gambit fails, there is always the Kenny boy castle-to-save-the-king.
Is the United States the equivalent of a corporation? Some executives from the former and even current US administrations might wish to keep this line of defense in mind. That last sentence from Judge Leval's quote seems tailor made.
"...employ mercenary armies to do dirty work for despots, perform genocides or operate torture prisons for a despot’s political opponents, or engage in piracy—all without civil liability to victims."As the saying from the 1930's goes, corporatism is fascism, and fascism is great for business. But Mussolini should have incorporated, and learned to delegate more effectively.
A federal appeals court has ruled US corporations can no longer be sued for human rights violations abroad under the longstanding Alien Tort Statute. Earlier this month, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Alien tort claims can only be brought against individuals, not corporations. The ruling dismissed a lawsuit accusing the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell of complicity in the murder and torture of Nigerian activists including Ken Saro-Wiwa.