Tort Litigation against Transnational Corporations in the English Courts: The Challenge of Jurisdiction



In recent decades, some jurisdictions have shown a growing trend of private claims alleging direct liability of parent companies for overseas human rights abuses (‘Tort Liability Claims’). These cases form part of an international effort aimed at establishing public control over the private operations of transnational corporations (‘TNCs’). Their success in addressing the challenges of cross-border operations of corporate groups, however, depends on the rules governing domestic courts’ power to adjudicate disputes. One of the consequences of globalisation is that the territorial focus of the adjudicative jurisdiction is often contrary to the transnational nature of the TNCs’ activities. The central purpose of this article is to demonstrate how jurisdictional issues arising in Tort Liability Claims challenge the traditional paradigm of private international law as an abstract and technical discipline by necessitating increasing involvement of domestic courts in the regulation of international business. The article focuses on the rules of jurisdiction applied by the English courts and, in particular, on the much-debated decisions in Lungowe v Vedanta and Okpabi v Shell.


transnational corporationstort of negligenceduty of careforeign direct liability casesprivate international lawjurisdiction
  • Page/Article: 6-21
  • DOI: 10.18352/ulr.444
  • Published on 15 Jun 2018
  • Peer Reviewed