Make Pollution Political -1826 Zambian claimants Demand Justice in Supreme Court, London

On 15th and 16th the Zambian communities consistently polluted by the subsidiary of British mining company Vedanta Resources will have their case heard at the Supreme Court in London, and we need your help to rally in solidarity outside and inside the court room, to send a clear message that we will not stand for this British company’s complete disregard for human rights and environment.

  Join us

Please join us to protest outside the court from 9.30am – 10.15am on Tues 15th and Weds 16th January and demand justice for the claimants!

All are welcome to attend the case for any period of time on either day. Your solidarity will be strongly felt!

 
Hearings are 10.30 AM- 4 PM, Tuesday and Wednesday, 15-16 January 2018.
Supreme Court
Little George Street
Westminster
London SW1P 3BD

Vedanta will attempt to overturn the High Court and Court of Appeal rulings which held that the case of 1,826 polluted farmers against the company and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines could be heard in the UK instead of
Zambia. The case could represent a precedent in UK law, as, if a duty of
care is found to be owed by Vedanta towards the claimants, this would be the first reported case in which a parent company would have been held to owe a duty of care to a person affected by the operations of a subsidiary who is not an employee of the subsidiary. Therefore this is an important
day for all communities affected by the crimes of UK multinationals who
have hitherto been denied justice in British courts.

The claimants, represented by UK law firm Leigh Day, are from farming and
fishing communities downstream of KCM’s mines and plants. They have
suffered continual pollution since UK firm Vedanta Resources bought KCM in
2004. In 2006 a major pollution spill hospitalised hundreds who drank River
Kafue water containing 10 x acceptable levels of copper, 770 x manganese
and 100 x cobalt.

In April 2016 the High Court found in the villagers’ favour that their case
demanding compensation for personal injury and loss of livelihood due to
gross pollution could be heard in the UK. The judgment was an indictment of
KCM’s financial secrecy, historic dishonesty and attempts to pervert the
course of justice. Vedanta appealed the decision but the London Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in favour of the claimants on 5th July 2017 despite Vedanta’s lawyers warning that the ruling could ‘open the floodgates’ to other claimants and urging judges to ‘police this gateway’ to the UK jurisdiction.

Please save the dates and look out for messages on this events page in case
the dates are changed at last minute. Do RSVP and let us know if you can
make it. Our solidarity will be felt and reported in Zambia, and means so
much to the communities.

We will be amplifying the community’s demands for KCM to:
  • Stop polluting the rivers now! Close down the plant until pollution
    control measures are replaced and upgraded
  • Provide clean water to the villages immediately, by tankers or pipes
  • De-silt the Mushishima stream and Kafue River and remove contaminated
    waste
  •  Remediate the entire polluted area to make it safe to live, farm and fish
    there again
  •  Compensate the affected people for loss of health and livelihood. All
    medical costs should be paid by KCM/Vedanta in future

News piece on CCTV Africa last year summarises the situation in 3
minutes

HISTORY AND SUMMARY :

UK company Vedanta Resources bought Zambia’s largest copper asset- Konkola
Copper Mines (KCM) – in 2004 for only £25 million, making £26 million back
from the mine in the first three months alone. Since that time the company
have consistently claimed a loss on their accounts and as a result paid
virtually no tax in Zambia. In 2014 Vedanta owner and Chairman Anil Agarwal
was filmed bragging to Indian businessmen at a conference about ripping off
the Zambian president, and making $500 million a year on the mine! The
video went viral across Africa and led to a forensic audit of the mine and
$600 million in VAT refunds being withheld.
Please see the shocking  four minute must watch video here (Click the captions symbol to see the translation).

In 2006 a badly maintained effluent pipe burst, flooding the River Kafue
with toxic pollution for 48 hours, turning the river green and poisoning
approximately 40,000 people with water containing 10 x acceptable levels of
copper, 770 x manganese and 100 x cobalt. 2000 Chingola residents filed a
lawsuit in 2007 and were awarded a landmark $2 million fine in 2011 in the
Zambian High Court. The judgment claimed Vedanta had been “shielded from
criminal prosecution by political connections and financial influence”. Due
to our intervention protesting at the Zambian embassy in London the appeal
case was heard in the Supreme Court on instruction of then Zambian
President Michael Sata. The verdict found Vedanta guilty of gross pollution
but removed all compensation payments. As a result the victims took their
case to UK lawyers.

In the meantime the pollution affecting farming and fishing communities
downstream of the plant has continued unabated with another major incidents
in 2010 as well as daily pollution. We spent weeks with the affected
communities in November 2015 and gathered shocking testimonies about the
sickness and death they have suffered.
Please see Judith’s shocking five minute testimony for more

If successful the cases will be a precedent for holding a UK mining company
responsible for the actions of its subsidiary, but first they have to argue
that the case should be heard in the UK and not Zambia.

***

Issues :

The proper approach to the “real issue”/”proper party” test under Practice
Direction 6B para. 3.1, where a claimant seeks to sue a foreign subsidiary
and a UK-domiciled parent company.
The proper approach to the exercise of discretion under CPR r.6.37(3) in
mass tort claims, particularly the weight to be given to the prospect of
parallel foreign proceedings as against the prejudice caused to a foreign
defendant in defending mass tort claims in England and Wales.
The proper approach when determining whether there is a real risk that a
claimant cannot obtain substantial justice in a foreign jurisdiction.
The proper application of EU law principles and cases to claims brought
against an English domiciled parent company, where the non-EU claimant sues
both an EU-domiciled parent company and its non-EU subsidiary company.

Whether to refer point (4) above to the EU Court of Justice.

Facts :

The respondents are 1826 Zambian citizens (“the Claimants”) who reside in
the Chingola region of the Copperbelt Province in Zambia.

The second appellant/defendant (“KCM”) is a public limited company,
incorporated in Zambia. KCM is the owner and operator of the Nchanga copper
mine in Zambia. It is the largest private employer in Zambia, where it
employs approximately 16,000 people (the vast majority at Nchanga). The
first appellant/defendant (“Vedanta”) is a company incorporated in the UK
which acts as a holding company for a group mining companies, including KCM.

On 31 July 2015 the Claimants issued proceedings against the KCM and
Vedanta. They claimed to have suffered personal injury, damage to property
and loss of income, amenity and enjoyment of land as a result of pollution
and environmental damage caused by discharges of harmful effluent from the
Nchanga mine since 2005.

On 19 August 2015 Akenhead J permitted the Claimants to serve the claim
form on KCM outside the jurisdiction. In September and October 2015 Vedanta
and KCM respectively applied for declarations that the court lacked
jurisdiction to try the claims or, alternatively, that it should not
exercise such jurisdiction that it might have. Coulson J dismissed those
applications. The Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of those
applications.

Source : The Supreme Court Case Details


Related reading :

Zambian villagers win right to have case against Vedanta & KCM heard in UK
London ruling awards Zambia $139 million from KCM

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