Vedanta Resources lawsuit (re water contamination, Zambia)

Zambia MineIn September 2015, a group of Zambian villagers filed a lawsuit against Vedanta Resources in UK court over water pollution caused by its subsidiary's copper mining operations. They claim that the water pollution from the Nchanga Copper Mine damaged their lands and livelihoods.

On 27 May 2016, an English High Court judge ruled that the lawsuit against Vedanta Resources may proceed.  In July, the companies appealed and challenged the English courts' jurisdiction. On 13 October 2017, the Court of Appeal dismissed the companies' appeal and allowed the villagers to pursue their claim in the UK.

 

 

 

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Article
13 October 2017

Court of Appeal upholds ruling that claims by Zambian villagers against mining giant can be heard in UK court

Author: Leigh Day

The Court of Appeal has today upheld a High Court ruling allowing the legal case on behalf of 1,826 Zambian villagers against UK mining giant Vedanta Resources Plc and its Zambian subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to continue to be heard in the UK Courts.

The Zambian villagers allege that their land and livelihood has been destroyed by the pollution from the Nchanga Copper Mine owned by Vedanta Resources PLC through their subsidiary KCM, going into the Mushishima river.

In 2015 the villagers took their legal action against Vedanta and KCM to the High Court and in Mr Justice Coulson’s judgment, handed down on 27 May 2016, he agreed that the Claimants had a legal right to bring their claim against the UK company, Vedanta Resources Plc, through the courts in the UK...

Vedanta and KCM took the High Court judgment to the Court of Appeal in July 2017...

In today’s judgment from the Court of Appeal Lord Justice Simon uphold[s] the original High Court judgment and dismiss[es] the appeals...

The judgment also sought to clarify the duty of care a parent company owes when operating via a subsidiary...

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Article
13 October 2017

KCM [Konkola Copper Mines] Announcement

Author: Vedanta Resources

Vedanta Resources Plc ("Vedanta") and Konkola Copper Mines ("KCM") announced that they have challenged the jurisdiction of the English courts to hear and adjudicate the claims by Zambian residents in relation to KCM's operations in Zambia. On 27 May 2016, the English High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, Technology and Construction Court ruled that the English courts have jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate the claims. Vedanta and KCM appealed this ruling.

The English Court of Appeal today released a judgment, dismissing this appeal and ruling that the English courts have jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate the claims.

This judgment relates solely to the jurisdiction of the English courts to hear these claims.  It is not a ruling or a determination on the merits of the claims. 

Vedanta and KCM are examining the Court's judgment and will seek permission to appeal the Court's decision.

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Article
13 October 2017

Zambian villagers win right to sue Vedanta in English courts

Author: Barbara Lewis, Reuters

Nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers have won the right to sue Vedanta Resources in the English courts in a ruling that could lead to other multinationals being pursued in London for their activities overseas...

Vedanta said in a statement it would seek the right to appeal to the Supreme Court...adding the decision was on jurisdiction only and “was not a ruling or a determination on the merits of the claims”.

Three senior High Court judges dismissed an appeal by Vedanta and its Zambian subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) against a ruling in May last year when a High Court judge decided the claim could proceed in the English courts...

The villagers allege that their land and livelihood have been destroyed by water pollution caused by the Nchanga Copper Mine, which is owned by Vedanta through its subsidiary KCM.

London law firm Leigh Day argued the English courts were the only route for the villagers...while Vedanta said Zambia was the appropriate jurisdiction...

Martyn Day, senior partner at Leigh Day, said the ruling was “a very important step forward in our clients’ fight for justice”...

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Article
13 February 2017

Vedanta appeals against claim by Zambian villagers

Author: Daily Nation (Zambia)

VEDANTA group of companies, which owns Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has opened a legal battle over whether an English court has jurisdiction to decide a claim on behalf of Zambian villagers seeking compensation for what they say is damage to their health and land by KCM...Vedanta Chief Executive Tom Albanese confirmed the action by his company...but said he only expected to know the outcome this year.  Mr Albanese also said US$100 million payment to the Zambian Government ordered by an English court over outstanding payments from a 2013 agreement had also been dealt with...

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Article
12 January 2017

Leigh Day demands answers after lawyer arrest in Zambia

Author: John Hyde, Law Society Gazette (UK)

Claimant firm Leigh Day will demand a full explanation after one of its lawyers was arrested meeting clients in Zambia...The firm had been meeting with local communities to discuss their claims relating to alleged pollution from a copper mine which they claim is causing damage to farming land and water sources.  The claim is against multinational corporation Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines.  Holland said the initial arresting officers involved were driving a vehicle displaying the Konkola Copper Mines logo...‘We will be seeking assurances both from the defendants and from the Zambian government that we will not be prevented from meeting our clients in the future. The ability for clients to meet with their lawyers is essential in their pursuit of justice and is a vital element of any fair and open society.’  Holland was arrested under the Public Order Act, which states that holding a meeting of more than three people requires a police permit.  The act is usually invoked during election times by political parties...Holland was eventually charged with the misdemeanour ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of peace’, which resulted in him paying a ZMK50 ($5/£4) fine.

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Article
12 January 2017

Leigh Day lawyer arrested in Zambia whilst meeting clients

Author: Leigh Day

A lawyer from the international group claims team at Leigh Day was arrested in Zambia as he met with four communities bringing claims against Vedanta Resources plc and their subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines...[A] lawyer from Leigh Day was in Zambia to meet with the communities to discuss their claims which relate to alleged pollution from the copper mine in Chingola which they claim is causing damage to farming land and water sources of our clients...Mr Holland was held without charge in the police cells for four hours without access to a lawyer, food or water.  According to Leigh Day this was an ‘excessive response’ to the eventual charge of ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of peace’ which is a misdemeanour, not a criminal offence, which resulted in Mr Holland paying a ZMK50 ($5) fine...Mr Holland said: “We will be writing immediately to KCM’s lawyers to obtain a full explanation as to their seeming involvement into my arrest...

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Article
12 June 2016

Vedanta to contest UK court pollution ruling, says case should heard in Zambia

Author: Zambia Daily Mail

"Vedanta to contest UK court pollution ruling", 6 June 2016

Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), will challenge the jurisdiction of the English court to hear and adjudicate the water pollution claims by Chingola residents in relation to KCM’s operations in Zambia...In a statement posted on the Vedanta website, Vedanta Resources president-group communications and sustainability Roma Balwani said...“This judgment relates solely to the jurisdiction of the English courts to hear these claims. It is not a ruling or a determination on the merits of the claims...Vedanta and KCM are examining the court’s judgment and considering all options, including an appeal of the Court’s decision,”...The villagers allege that their water sources and farming land were contaminated by the copper mining operations of both companies, and that they have suffered continual pollution since 2004, causing them to fall sick and lose their crops.

 

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Article
27 May 2016

Zambian villagers allowed to take legal action against mining giant in UK

Author: Leigh Day

A High Court judge has agreed that a legal claim against UK based mining giant Vedanta Resources Plc and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), on behalf of 1,826 Zambian villagers can proceed in the UK Courts. In his ruling, handed down today, Mr Justice Coulson granted jurisdiction over the claims, which involve allegations of serious environmental pollution, and rejected the Defendants’ arguments that the cases must be brought in Zambia...Both UK-based Vedanta and Zambian KCM argued that the UK court had no jurisdiction to try the claims against them. Lawyers for the mining companies argued that the claims against both Defendants should be tried in Zambia because the Claimants are Zambian and the damage occurred in Zambia. However, Leigh Day, the lawyers for the claimants, argued that the cases should be tried by the English courts. They argued that under EU law the Claimants had a legal right to bring a claim against UK-based Vedanta. They also argued that Vedanta should bear equal legal responsibility, given its control over its mining subsidiary, the profit it makes from the mine and its alleged knowledge of the pollution.  

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Article
27 May 2016

Zambian villagers win right to have pollution case heard in Britain

Author: John Vidal, Guardian (UK)

Eighteen hundred Zambian villagers claiming to have had their water supplies polluted and their health affected by a giant mining company’s subsidiary have won the right to have their case heard in the British courts rather than in Zambia. Vedanta, which is headquartered in London, had argued strongly in the high court that the villagers’ case against them and their subsidiary, KCM, should be heard in Zambia, where the alleged pollution took place near the town of Chingola and the giant Nchanga copper mine. But high court judge Sir Peter Coulson dismissed the multinational’s claims, saying he feared that villagers would not get justice in their own country because they would not be able to afford lawyers, and because the Zambian legal system would not be able to cope with such a large and long trial.

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Article
8 September 2015

Zambian villagers take Vedanta Resources to court in UK - accuse company of turning water sources to "rivers of acid"

Author: Nomsa Maseko, BBC News (UK)

"'Rivers of acid' in Zambian villages", 8 Sep 2015

The communities of Hippo Pool, Kakosa, Shimulala and Hellen say the Mushishima stream and the Kafue [River] have become rivers of acid.  Hundreds of villagers who claim copper mining operations in the area have poisoned their water source and destroyed farmland are taking...Vedanta Resources...to court.

Leaked documents...appear to show that Vedanta Resources - through its Zambian based Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) [jointly owned with ZCCM Resources] - have been spilling sulphuric acid and other toxic chemicals into the water sources.  A whistle-blower, who worked for 15 years with KCM, alleges that since Vedanta bought the mine in 2004, corners have been cut to save the costs of running operations... 

Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) denied in a statement to the BBC that it had failed to maintain critical equipment adequately or that heavy spillages and massive leakages occurred due to degraded equipment and leaking pumps and pipes... 

The soil in the copper belt used to be rich...but now produces virtually nothing.  The community believes this is due to pollution entering the stream...[and] people's health is also being affected.

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