English courts are seeing an increasing number of claims brought against UK companies who are said to be responsible for harm to claimants who live outside of the UK, even though the company was not directly involved in the wrongful conduct alleged.
There are two main areas of caselaw developing: the "parent company liability" line of caselaw (where the leading cases are Vedanta and Okpabi) and the "value chain" line of caselaw (where the leading cases are Maran, Kalma and more recently, Josiya).1 These claims are not confined to the UK. While certain aspects of the UK legal system (e.g. the costs regime2), and the number of publicly listed multinationals in the UK, create a relatively favourable environment for these claims to be brought, we do see similar claims brought elsewhere, including in Europe, Canada and the US.
In the recent US case, Nestle USA Inc. v John Doe et al 593 U. S. ____ (2021) (the "Nestle Decision"), the US Supreme Court considered whether corporations in the US could be held liable under the Alien Torts Statute for "aiding and abetting" modern slavery overseas. The issues before the Court will be familiar to those who are acquainted with the UK's own "value chain" line of caselaw, whereby a foreign claimant seeks compensation from a UK-business (generally a multinational corporation) for the failure to prevent harm caused by a third-party.
(For more on the developing "value chain" line of caselaw in the UK, see our recent articles on Begum v Maran  EWCA Civ 326 and Josiya v British American Tobacco PLC  EWHC 1743 (QB))