USSC denial of certiorari in Chevron /Ecuador brings the case no closer to solution

Postscript 18 March 2014: the US distict Court of New York confirmed an earlier temporary injunction early March 2014 against enforcement in the US. /////

The United States Supreme Court has denied Chevron certiorari in the enforcement leg of the Ecuadorian ruling against the company. The official log may be found here. The Second Circuit Court of Appeal had earlier removed an initial injunction, barring enforcement of the underlying Ecuadorian ruling which granted inhabitants of the affected Amazon area damages of 18 billion USD.

The ruling goes back to Chevron’s acquisition of Texaco, and the pollution caused by Texaco operations in the area affected, in the 1980s and 90s. Many of the corporate social responsibility issues linked to private international law (on which I have work in progress together with Charlotte Luks here and where the USSC heard oral arguments in Kiobel here) are not in fact relevant to this case. Rather, the case throws light on the difficulties which may arise  in trying to enforce a judgment of a third country in a jurisdiction such as the United States. Chevron essentially argue that rule of law principles have been violated in the Ecuadorian rulings on the liability, consequently barring enforcement in the US. Denial of certiorari is quite routine (the USSC being able to cherry pick its cases) and typically signals that the Court sees no new points of law to be settled in the case. Denial has no impact on the merits of the underlying case and reasons for denial of certiorari are never given.  This latest development therefore is exactly that: the latest, however by no means the last.

FYI rule of law considerations, in particular rights of the defense, are one of the very few grounds which may lead an EU court to reject enforcement of a judgment of another EU court, under the Brussels I Regulation.

Geert.

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