Since the mid-1980s, beginning with the unsuccessful Union Carbide litigation in the USA, litigants have been exploring ways of holding multinational corporations [MNCs] liable for offshore human rights abuses in the courts of the company's home States. The highest profile cases have been the human rights claims brought against MNCs (such as Unocal, Shell, Rio Tinto, Coca Cola, and Talisman) under the Alien Tort Claims Act in the United States. Such claims also raise issues under customary international law (which is directly applicable in US federal law) and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations [RICO] statute. Another legal front is found in the USA, England and Australia, where courts have become more willing to exercise jurisdiction over transnational common law tort claims against home corporations, and now a corporation's human rights practices are being indirectly targeted under trade practices law in groundbreaking litigation in California against sportsgoods manufacturer Nike. This new study examines these developments and the procedural arguments (eg. regarding personal jurisdiction and especially forum non conveniens) which have been used to block litigation, as well the clues which can be gleaned from cases which have settled.
The analysis is important for human rights victims in order to know the boundaries of possible available legal redress. It is also important for MNCs, which must now take human rights into account in managing the legal risks (as well as moral and reputation risks) associated with offshore projects.
...provides a useful and thorough oversight of the main developments in litigation against corporations,...the author must be complimented for providing a much needed assessment of the complex developments so far...I look forward to the next book of Joseph on the subject. Nicola Jagers Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, Vol 23/4 2005 ...its lucid summaries and complete footnotes make it an ideal starting point for anyone interested in corporate social responsibility and/or human rights litigation. International and Comparative Law Quarterly 2005 ...informative, well-informed and usable account of the subject matter... Christopher Harding Australian Year Book of International Law, Volume 24 2005 ...is...topical and provides a clear, succinct summary of the law in this areaan accessible introduction to the issues for those working in relevant areas..who wish to learn more about these highly topical developments..contains..perceptive and helpful commentary, and provides up-to-date references to other relevant literaturethis book will make a useful addition to this body of literature. Barbara von Tigerstrom, University of Canterbury New Zealand Law Journal February 2005 [A] landmark study an interesting and engaging book that deftly reveals the pitfalls, purposes and processes of litigating transnational corporate human rights violations. Najim Animashaun, Law, Policy and Society, Northeastern University New England School of Law Bimonthly Review March 2005