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Sierra Leone: Judgment recognises the right of diamond mining affected communities to sue Octéa Group companies jointly in local courts
Author: Evelyn Zheng, Advocates for Community Alternatives, Published on: 26 March 2019
"Sierra Leone communities win right to sue Octéa mining companies jointly in local courts", 14 March 2019.
Plaintiffs from Gbense and Tankoro Chiefdoms near Koidu City in Kono District, Sierra Leone, have won an ex parte ruling allowing them to serve lawsuit documents on six companies of the Octéa Group and their Managing Directors at Koidu Limited’s address in Freetown. This court order will allow them to sue all six companies together, despite their attempts to avoid service by failing to register in Sierra Leone...In order to commence a lawsuit against the defendants, the plaintiffs first needed to serve the Octéa companies with papers informing them of the legal action...“Most of the defendants had no listed address in Sierra Leone, even though we know they operate here.” Lawyers for the plaintiffs tried to contact the defendants through normal channels but did not receive a response. The lawyers thus filed an originating summons so that the Octéa group could not avoid legal repercussions by hiding behind its corporate structure. The evidence presented to the judge included documents from the Panama Papers in which an Octéa parent company’s bankers discussed sending important documents to the company’s “operational” address that it shares with Koidu Ltd. in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone...“Now we can serve papers on all the defendants at the address of Koidu Ltd., and they won’t be able to argue that they’re all separate entities.”...