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18 Jun 2005

Leigh Day & Co

British lawyers return from Medellin to make claim on behalf of Colombian farmers against BP

A team of lawyers from Leigh Day & Co...returns this morning from a trip to Medellin in Colombia. The legal team represents some 60 farmers who claim that their lives have been devastated by the construction of an oil pipeline over their lands...built by a consortium (known as OCENSA) led by BP...The legal team is now preparing to issue a claim in the High Court in London...the pipeline cut across many of the key water sources on their farms...The devastating environmental impact has been exacerbated by the role that the Colombian Army and paramilitary groups have adopted in policing the pipeline on behalf of its owners...In communications with BP it is clear that they will argue that they have made payments to some of the farmers...The reality was however that...the compensation paid by BP was for a tiny fraction of the actual value of the losses that the farmers have sustained...The case will be pursued in London rather than Colombia, in part, because of the dangers of seeking to challenge the pipeline in the Clients’ domestic courts.