Making the Justice Department Keep its Word
Zealous legal and regulatory activity is inevitable in a world where public stakeholders mistrust business, and where a global business environment often makes foreign companies easy targets. Unfortunately, the likelihood of over-zealous action by powerful public entities – from state attorneys general to the highest reaches of federal power – becomes commensurately greater as well.
In seeking one of the largest antirust fines in history against Stolt-Nielsen S.A., a Norwegian shipping company, the Justice Department breached its own 2002 amnesty agreement with the company. Not just a threat to this one shipping company, the DOJ’s action would have created a permanently dangerous precedent and sent a damaging message to foreign interests about doing business in the United States.
LEVICK’S aggressive communications campaign reframed the issue to focus on the government’s broken promises and prosecutorial overreach, and it did so throughout the U.S. and Europe. This aggressive public affairs communications campaign isolated the Justice Department and put the prosecutors themselves on the defensive.
A federal judge dismissed the case in 2007 and the Justice Department announced on Christmas Eve 2007 that it would not appeal – a complete victory for Stolt-Nielsen.