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21 Jun 2011

Leigh Day (UK)

'Justice' Bill to put corporate wrongdoers beyond the law [UK]

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, unveiled by Prime Minister David Cameron today, will make human rights litigation against multinationals unviable and tip the balance in favour of the UK’s most powerful companies at the expense of victims, particularly in the developing world. Over the past two decades, Leigh Day has brought a series of landmark cases against companies accused of serious human rights and environmental abuses around the world. These have included claims against Anglo-American on behalf of South African miners exposed to asbestos dust, against BP for environmental degradation caused by construction of an oil pipeline in Colombia and against Trafigura on behalf of 30,000 Ivorians injured by the dumping of toxic waste. These cases are already extremely risky and expensive to run, often involving teams of lawyers working for years and trawling through thousands of company documents. The changes to the civil costs regime proposed under the new bill now threaten to make them impossible.

Part of the following timelines

UK: Proposed changes to civil litigation funding will restrict access to justice for victims of UK multinational human rights violations, says Richard Meeran of Leigh Day

UK: UN Special Representative Ruggie warns that cuts to legal aid & changes to conditional fee agreements will damage human rights litigation against multinationals

AngloGold Ashanti silicosis lawsuit (So. Africa)