Lafarge & Suez Cement lawsuit (re air pollution, Egypt)
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On 3 October 2016, the Habi Center for Environmental Rights filed a lawsuit at the Egyptian Administrative Court challenging the use of coal by the cement companies Lafarge Egypt (part of LafargeHolcim) and the Suez Cement Group (part of HeidelbergCement). The Habi Center claimed that both companies had failed to disclose required environmental impact assessment studies or details on public hearings before they started using coal in their operations. It also claimed that by using coal without adhering to relevant regulations, the companies were violating the rights to health, healthy environment, participation and access to information, as enshrined in the Egyptian Constitution.
On 3 October 2016, the Habi Center for Environmental Rights filed a case before the Egyptian Administrative Court of the Egyptian State Council based on Article 103 of the Egyptian Environment Law that allows any citizen or association concerned with the environment to seek judicial remedies in response to environmental law violations. They are challenging the use of coal by the cement companies Lafarge Egypt (part of LafargeHolcim) and the Suez Cement Group (part of HeidelbergCement). The Habi Center asked the Administrative Court to compel the government to suspend the license given to Lafarge Egypt and Suez Cement to use coal until they disclose their environmental impact assessment studies and details on relevant public hearings. The complaint also asked the Court to order both companies, as well as the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, to systematically publish the results of public hearings and environmental impact studies on their respective websites.
Prior to commencing litigation, the Habi Center tried to communicate with both companies, as well as the Environmental Affairs Agency, but did not receive satisfactory responses. During the course of proceedings, the Habi Center closed, and the case is now being led by ElSeidi Law Firm.
In 2018, the Administrative Court issued a legal opinion in the form of a report stating that the plaintiffs are entitled to their request. It shows the existence of violations regarding the use of coal by the companies without implementing the necessary environmental requirements, especially the publication of an environmental impact assessment.
On 16 May 2020, the final hearing for the Lafarge and Suez Cement lawsuit took place. However, the Court decided to reopen the case on 29 August 2020 in order to give the companies the opportunity to make their pleading in court. They did not attend any session of the trial, despite being legally notified several times.
On 30 November 2020, the Administrative Judicial Court of the Egyptian State Council ruled that the case was inadmissible due to the absence of a negative administrative decision. The judge considered that the guidelines explaining how to conduct environmental impact assessments of any project in accordance with the environmental law are only procedures (not administrative decisions) and are not legally binding. They do not have any significant impact on the licensing process.
The plaintiffs have appealed the judgment.
- حابىيقدمطعنأماممجلسالدولةضدشركاتالأسمنتووزارةالبيئة,5 أكتوبر 2016، الكاتب: مركزحابيللحقوقالبيئية
- "Response from Suez Cement", 23 Oct 2016
Habi Center for Environmental Rights
- “Habi lodges an appeal in Council State against cement companies and the Ministry of Environment”, 5 Oct 2016
- “Habi Centre awaits response from Egypt's Environmental Affairs Agency regarding cement companies”, 9 Aug 2016
- “Habi Center demands cement multinational companies to stop their violations and commit to local and international law”, 5 Oct 2015