Corporate Liability Under Customary International Law

8 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2012 Last revised: 3 Dec 2012

See all articles by William S. Dodge

William S. Dodge

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: 2012


This contribution to a symposium on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. examines two ways of looking at the question of corporate liability under customary international law. It argues that the Second Circuit was wrong to ask whether a “norm of corporate liability” exists in the abstract and that the proper question is whether the particular norm at issue — torture, for example — applies to juridical persons. The essay notes that all of the norms actionable under the Alien Tort Statute prohibit certain acts, irrespective of the perpetrator, and explains that state practice applying norms to natural persons may generate customary international law binding on juridical persons unless there is some difference between natural and juridical persons relevant to the norm.

Keywords: Alien Tort Statute, Kiobel, Corporate Liability, Customary International Law

Suggested Citation

Dodge, William S., Corporate Liability Under Customary International Law (2012). 43 Georgetown Journal of International Law 1045 (2012), UC Hastings Research Paper No. 7, Available at SSRN:

William S. Dodge (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

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