In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s surprise ruling in Jam v IFC, the corridors of the World Bank echo with metaphors of alarm.
Chief Justice Roberts, joined by six Associate Justices (with Justice Stephen Breyer in lonely dissent), have opened Pandora’s Box, tipping out cats onto pigeons and sending an applecart rolling to an untidy fate. The decision opens the door to litigation in the US against international organisations (“IOs”) as long as the claim relates to “commercial” activities. In the long term, IOs may be able to use their constituent instruments to override the result in Jam, or even persuade the US Courts to narrow the “commercial” gateway in immunities law. For now, in the changed landscape, IOs with connections to the US and their stakeholders need to consider: what are the consequences of Jam, and how are IOs with headquarters elsewhere – e.g. in the UK – faring on similar issues?