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1 Apr 2015

International Senior Lawyers Project

ISLP Case Study - Cambodia Land Grabbing

...Following numerous unsuccessful attempts to engage and negotiate with Tate & Lyle and T&L Sugars (which had purchased Tate & Lyle’s sugar business in 2010), the villagers decided to sue the two UK companies in English court under a traditional property rights theory: because the companies had purchased all the raw sugar produced from sugarcane grown on the stolen land, they had illegally converted the villagers’ property to their own use. In March 2013, ISLP’s UK lawyers filed suit in the English High Court of Justice to begin the action. The case is ongoing, and in late 2014 another UK law firm stepped forward to assume representation of the villagers over the long‐term.

The Koh Kong villagers’ case against Tate & Lyle represents a groundbreaking legal strategy—it aims to hold foreign companies accountable for their role in the illegal confiscation of the villagers’ land. It asks that the farmers be given fair compensation for goods produced from their stolen lands. And it puts multinational companies conducting business in Cambodia—as well as other places where land‐grabbing is prevalent—on notice that they can be held responsible for human rights violations within their supply chains and for engaging with companies complicit in those violations.