German court dismisses lawsuit against KiK over liability for fire at factory in Pakistan in 2012

On 10 January 2019, the Dortmund regional court dismissed a complaint brought by four Pakistani plaintiffs against KiK, a textile company, accused of joint liability over a fire that broke out at one of its suppliers in Karachi in 2012 and killed 250 people. The German court ruled that the statute of limitations had expired.

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9 January 2019

Kik trial questions 'customer is king' mantra

Author: Oliver Pieper, Deutsche Welle (Germany)

Four Pakistani citizens are suing German discounter KiK over a fire that broke out at one of its suppliers in Karachi on 11 September 2012 [causing the deaths of more than 250 people]… 

[Remo Klinger, the lawyer defending the claims of four Pakistanis contends that] "adhering to human rights standards is not just an obligation for states, but also for private companies"…[For Klinger,] KiK had neglected fire safety regulations and hence shared responsibility for the high number of casualties.

KiK…has so far paid more than €6 million in damages to people affected by the fire. The Dortmund trial, however, is a civil suit for pain and suffering…and the judges have to decide whether to dismiss the claim because of the statute of limitations, according to Pakistani law…

[KiK] executives…[claim] that the real culprits are currently being sued in Pakistan, adding that German companies should not be held responsible for the criminal acts of Pakistani attackers. KiK also points to the international SA 8000 quality seal, which Italian surveyor Rina bestowed on the factory…before the fire broke out…

Thomas Seibert from the human rights organization medico international…thinks little of the company citing an expert report from Italy's Rina…

Seibert hopes that German Development Minister Gerd Müller will soon initiate a bill to make German firms adhere to safety standards…He also notes that clothing consumption has risen dramatically over the past three decades; that is during the time when a lot of the production facilities were relocated to poorer nations...

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10 January 2019

German Court dismisses Pakistani's complaint against KiK

Author: ECCHR, AEFFAA, NTUF & Medico International

The Regional Court in Dortmund will not investigate the facts in the case against the German textile retailer KiK…The court rejected the lawsuit, which aimed to clarify KiK's joint responsibility for the fire safety deficiencies, referring to a statutory limitation. 

KiK had agreed to waive a possible statutory limitation before the filing of the complaint, but, two years after the its filing, insisted that its waiver was void. 

The claim – initiated by the...ECCHR and supported by medico international – was the first of its kind in Germany. The case aimed to make clear that transnational corporations are responsible for the working conditions at their subsidiaries and suppliers abroad.

The claimants will decide whether they want to appeal the court’s decision after evaluating the written judgment. 

Miriam Saage-Maaß from ECCHR stressed the fundamental importance of the proceedings: “German companies of all kinds have closely followed the complaint against KiK. Legal experts from Germany, the UK and Switzerland have supported the complainants’ arguments. Everyone understands that the current law does not fulfil all fundamental demands.” 

Thomas Seibert from medico international added: “The voluntary commitments from companies are not sufficient. In order to enforce human and labor rights, politicians have to implement laws for an efficient corporate liability.”

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10 January 2019

German court rejects case of deadly Pakistan factory fire

Author: The Associated Press

A German court won't take up a civil case against a discount textile company whose clothes were produced in a factory in Pakistan that burned to the ground in 2012, killing more than 250 people.

The Dortmund regional court ruled...that the statute of limitations had expired on the suit brought by four Pakistani plaintiffs — a survivor and three relatives.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, which supported the plaintiffs, said it is considering appealing the decision.

The plaintiffs had sought 30,000 euros ($34,000) each in damages from the KiK clothing company, arguing that as one of its main buyers the German firm was partially responsible for conditions at the Karachi factory.

KiK has rejected the accusations.

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11 January 2019

The fault in our factories

Author: Osama Shahid, Nation (Pakistan)

...With the support of the ECCHR, a Berlin-based human rights organisation, four affectees,...filed a lawsuit against German textile discounter Kik, in...Germany [maintaining] that...[it was] partially responsible for inadequate fire safety measures at the textile factory...

On 10th of January 2019, the court dismissed the lawsuit stating that the claim was time-barred...

Six years after the deadliest factory fire in Pakistan´s history, the working conditions have not improved; occupational hazards and criminal lack of safety measures persist just as shamelessly as they did in 2012.

Not only has the state failed to implement laws and regulations which should prevent such incidents in the future, but it has also failed to set up a remedial system to legally and monetarily facilitate the victims of such incidents...

Legal awareness is necessary for workers in all sectors of the industry so they can affirmatively claim their rights. Launching a rights-based awareness campaign, rights-based education at local, provincial, and national level, therefore, seems as the first step towards ensuring better working conditions in Pakistan...

[Additionally, Pakistan] must devise comprehensive legislation directed towards the welfare and safety of the workers...[and] ensure that factories comply with the law[s]...

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