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28 Oct 2011

Nick Mathiason, Guardian [UK]

The UK's scandalous legal aid bill is a threat to global human rights

[T]here is a real danger the Monterrico [part of Zijin] case could be one of the last of its kind if the UK's coalition government's legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill…becomes law…One major lesson from cases such as this is that transnational companies can no longer operate in poorer countries thinking they can't be pursued. But will similar claims be pursued in the future if the coalition government's bill becomes law? Leigh Day…believes…sections 41–43 of the proposed reforms…will make it all but impossible to pursue claims in British courts…[However, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said] “It will still be possible to bring claims against multinational companies once our reforms to no-win, no-fee conditional fee arrangements are implemented…but we believe that the costs involved will be more proportionate to the sums in issue."...But it seems the UK is poised to make it harder to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to book where it involves companies based in Britain. And that is a scandal we should be ashamed of. [also refers to Trafigura]