Litigating extraterritorial corporate crimes in Canadian courts
University of British Columbia
Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
This study investigates whether and how Canadian courts may assume jurisdiction (both criminal and civil) over extraterritorial crimes/wrongs committed by Canadian corporations operating overseas. It examines the current state of international law to see whether there is any international legal rule prohibiting a state from assuming jurisdiction over conduct occurring outside its territory. It finds that no such positive rule is in existence, whether in customary international law or in treaty law, and that the only concern is the likelihood of diplomatic protests by states which believe that the jurisdiction sought to be assumed is a threat to their territorial integrity. It argues that although the type of jurisdiction envisaged in this study is not widespread among states, the absence of widespread state practice is not tantamount to prohibition, at least in principle. The study then looks at the Canadian domestic jurisdictional bases, both criminal and civil. On the criminal front, it finds that the real and substantial link test has enough flexibility to reach the extraterritorial conduct of Canadian corporations and that the expansion of the substantive bases of corporate criminal liability that occurred in Canada in 2003 bolstered the criminal jurisdiction of Canadian courts over extraterritorial corporate crimes. On the civil front, it finds that Canadian courts may assume extraterritorial jurisdiction under three distinct theories: the real and substantial connection test, necessity jurisdiction and the recently enacted Torture Victims Protection Act. It examines the bases for declining jurisdiction under the doctrine of forum non conveniens and calls for a reformulation of the doctrine to require a Canadian court to decline jurisdiction only when it finds that it is a “clearly inappropriate” forum, in contrast to the current rule that requires the existence of a “clearly more appropriate alternative” forum. The question of choosing the applicable law in tort cases is also interrogated. A call is made for the adoption of a rule that considers the nature of the conduct in litigation as an important element in the determination of the applicable law. On the whole, this study concludes that Canada holds prospects for transnational litigation.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Law, Faculty of