All individuals, communities, governments, and corporations have the fundamental responsibility to protect and respect human rights, to avoid rights violations in the first instance and safeguard our shared environment. But these responsibilities are unstable without a third “pillar”: the requirement that, when rights violations do occur, those responsible are held accountable and provide a prompt and adequate remedy to those affected by the violation. The demand of accountability and remedy is not only a basic requisite of justice for affected individuals and communities, it is an essential element of discipline in moving from rhetoric of rights to the realization of rights in meaningful terms.
Forum Nobis focuses on using the civil justice system to achieve accountability and remedies. Among U.S. law firms, Forum Nobis is relatively unique in its efforts and abilities at using, whenever possible, the local courts in the country where the rights violation occurred, as opposed to the more “familiar” litigation forum of the United States. Using local courts can be an important exercise of self-respect, autonomy, and capacity-building for affected individuals and communities—and as more and more jurisdictions see a rise in effectual remedy-seeking legal practice, more and more law firms are adopting this approach. But the approach brings with it a host of difficult challenges, which Form Nobis’ extensive experience allows it to confront with a unique degree of strategic insight.
Forum Nobis also focuses on what are often the most difficult—but most important—accountability cases: those seeking to impose accountability on governments and multinational corporations, the most powerful economic and political actors of our time. These cases too bring with them a unique and complex set of legal and practical challenges. Forum Nobis works to share its expertise on these issues in a flexible variety of counsel and consulting arrangements with clients as well as existing legal teams. Common issues and challenges with which Forum Nobis may be able to help include:
- immunity/justiciability—advice and analysis concerning the numerous immunity and justiciability issues invariably raised in accountability cases, including claims of sovereign immunity, “act of State” immunity, qualified immunity for government employees or contractors and state-owned enterprises, “political question” immunity, and many others;
- corporate limited liability—advice and analysis concerning application of the “piercing the corporate veil” doctrine and related doctrines of alter ego liability, successor liability, aiding and abetting liability, and others;
- joint liability—advice and analysis concerning joint and several liability and other issues in joint tortfeasor cases;
- aggregate and complex litigation—advice and analysis concerning class certification requirements under U.S. law, multi-district litigation (MDL) procedure and practice, and issues with under-utilized aggregate litigation options available in Europe and Latin America;
- corporate liability under international law—advice and analysis concerning the debate on whether corporations may be held liable for violations of international law, including international criminal liability;
- recognition and enforcement of judgments—advice and analysis concerning strategies for seeking or resisting the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards;
- responding to public relations campaigns—assistance to affected individuals, communities, and their representatives in responding to the onslaught of sophisticated public relations attacks that, regrettably, many corporations choose to deploy in response to efforts to hold them accountable for human rights and environmental violations.
- responding to retaliatory litigation (SLAPPs)—assistance to affected individuals, communities, and their representatives in responding to retaliatory litigation (counterclaims, crushing discovery requests, even trumped-up “fraud” or “contempt” proceedings) that some corporations choose to deploy in response to corporate accountability efforts and other acts by individuals in exercise of free expression.