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Artículo

The Vedanta Appeal, Corporate Liability and Access to Justice: Relevance for Myanmar?

The claim against Vedanta, under review at the UK Supreme Court, will decide whether a UK-incorporated parent company has a duty of care, and therefore liability in tort law for negligence, to people affected by the operations of its subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), in Zambia…

Vedanta and KCM’s lawyers do not dispute the damage that has been done but have appealed to the Supreme Court arguing that their corporate structure does not give them enough control over KCM to give rise to this duty of care and that, in any case, the correct forum for the claims against KCM is the Zambian courts…

Essentially, the case must balance the interests of access to justice for victims of environmental and human rights law violations resulting in personal and property damage with opening the floodgates to claims against the subsidiaries of UK companies around the world in British courts…

In order for the villagers to make a claim against Vedanta in tort law, it must be shown that a duty of care exists, that the duty has been negligently breached, and that the breach has resulted in the damages…

The UK Supreme Court must know whether the duty of care in this situation extends extraterritorially, and if not, whether it is fair, just and reasonable to create a new duty of care…

So, what is the right forum to hear this type of claim? In English law, the appropriate forum is the one in which the case may most suitably be tried in the interests of all the parties and the ends of justice…

Vedanta’s lawyers sought to demonstrate that access to justice is obtainable in Zambian courts, citing various civil claims and reforms to the judiciary…

[The decision will have ramifications for access to justice for business-human rights and environmental abuses in all developing states, including Myanmar, where access to justice against subsidiary companies is limited and a potential claim could be made against the parent company in its home state...]

Part of the following stories

Demanda contra Vedanta Resources (relativa a contaminación hídrica en Zambia)

UK Supreme Court to hear case on parent company's responsibility for its subsidiary polluting local water sources in Zambia