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23 Oct 2019

Environment News Service

Total Sued Under France’s New Duty of Vigilance Law

Today six environmental groups in France and Uganda, led by Friends of the Earth, are taking the French multinational energy company Total to court for its failure to elaborate and implement its human rights and environmental vigilance plan in Uganda. This is the first legal action under the 2017 French Duty of Vigilance law, which aims to address corporate negligence.

The six groups are seeking emergency proceedings against Total for non-compliance with its legal obligations under the new law...

Total plans to drill over 400 wells in the park, extracting around 200,000 barrels of oil per day. A 1,445km (900 mile) long giant pipeline is planned to transport the oil, impacting communities and the environment in Tanzania as well as Uganda...

Total responded to the environmental groups, saying...

  • Total’s Vigilance Plan clearly identifies the risks to human rights, fundamental freedoms, human health and safety, and the environment that could result from our activities. Preventive measures specific to these risks are also set out.
  • The French Law on Corporate Duty of Care takes a general approach by type of risk. It does not require disclosure of risks specific to individual projects.
  • The Vigilance Plan does not cover management of the risks related to our operations. That management is provided through action plans and procedures in force within Total and other measures taken for individual projects, notably in response to impact assessments.

The case will be decided in the Nanterre High Court, where a hearing is scheduled to take place on January 8, 2020.

A judge will decide if the corporation should be forced, with potential financial penalties, to review its vigilance plan... [and to] undertake urgent measures in order to prevent further human rights violations or environmental damage.

Part of the following timelines

6 NGOs file lawsuit against Total over alleged failure to respect French Duty of Vigilance law in its operations in Uganda

Total lawsuit (re failure to respect French duty of vigilance law in operations in Uganda)