Volume 35

Solving the Settlement Puzzle in Human Rights Litigation

by William J. Aceves

In human rights litigation, there are no formal standards to guide lawyers and their clients when they are considering whether to settle a case. Moreover, there is a paucity of published data on human rights settlements. This Article provides a quantitative assessment of recorded settlements in human rights cases litigated under the Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act. It examines both confidential and public settlements. It then considers how and why these cases settled. Finally, this Article proposes a set of standards for assessing proposed settlements. When cases involve fundamental rights and individuals have suffered immeasurable harms, litigants, lawyers, and judges should know whether the costs of settlement are worth the price.

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