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UIA Toronto Congress - Main Theme 2: Legal Remedies for Victims of Terrorism

By Celia Choy

(Munger Tolles & Olson LLP) 


This Main Theme panel examined legal remedies that countries around the world have made available to compensate victims of terrorism.

In the first session, the panelists examined remedies against sovereign states. Two of the panelists, Sean Carter of Cozen O’Connor (Philadelphia, USA) and John Adair of Adair Barristers (Toronto, Canada), discussed litigation in the United States and Canada, respectively, against foreign states that are alleged to have provided material support and resources to the perpetrators of terrorist attacks. Mr. Carter and Mr. Adair addressed hurdles that plaintiffs face in seeking compensation from sovereign states, such as sovereign immunity and identification of assets, as well as the political and diplomatic dimensions of these lawsuits. Martina Barcaroli des Varannes of Macchi di Cellere Gangemi (Rome, Italy and Paris, France) discussed the approach taken in Italy, which has created a state-sponsored fund for compensating victims of terrorist attacks and mafia violence.  She discussed the history and values behind Italy’s compensation scheme, as well as the practical challenges of administration. 

The second session addressed remedies against third-party actors as well as the approach taken in the United Kingdom and France more broadly. Professor Clive Walker of the University of Leeds (Leeds, UK) traced the rise of regulatory responses to terrorist threats in the United Kingdom, including special compensation schemes that have been developed in response to the conflict in Northern Ireland and, more recently, to international terrorism. Professor Jimmy Gurule of the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, USA) examined lawsuits in the United States against financial institutions that are alleged to have provided financial services to terrorist groups, concluding that such suits have largely failed to deliver meaningful compensation to victims. Finally, Dominique Attias, the Vice-Batonniere of the Paris Bar Association (Paris, France) described her organization’s efforts to assist victims of the recent terrorist attacks in France, and called upon lawyers around the world to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of justice for such victims.

Celia Choy (Munger Tolles & Olson LLP) Washington, DC, USA

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