Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs

Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs

Closing the Governance Gap

Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series

Simon Baughen

The effects of globalisation, together with the increase in foreign investment and resource development within the developing world, have created a context for human rights abuses by States in which transnational corporations are complicit. This timely book considers how these ‘governance gaps’, as identified by Professor John Ruggie, may be closed. Simon Baughen examines the status of corporations under international law, the civil liability of corporations for their participation in international crimes and self-regulation through voluntary codes of conduct, such as the 2011 UN Guiding Principles.

Chapter 2: Suing in the US (1): Jurisdiction

Simon Baughen

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, law - academic, corporate law and governance, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


The first hurdle for the plaintiff wishing to bring a transnational tort claim against a TNC in the US will be establishing jurisdiction in one of the federal courts of the US or in a state court. Litigation is expensive in the US. There is no legal aid for plaintiffs, but suits against TNCs are funded either through the contingency fee basis, under which plaintiffs will not pay lawyers’ fees but will agree to allow their lawyers to recover a percentage of any amount ultimately awarded or settled, or through lawyers acting pro bono. Article III (2) of the US Constitution defines the jurisdiction of the federal courts as follows: The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more states; between a state and citizens of another state; between citizens of different states; between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects. There are two main ways in which a tort claim may be brought in the federal courts.

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