Transnational UK Supreme Court Ruling May Open the Floodgates for Global Climate Change Lawsuits

Original image author Chris Potter, http://www.stockmonkeys.com, image modified

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The UK Supreme Court just ruled in favour of Zambian farmers, who argued their country’s courts are not up to the job of addressing an alleged environmental crime which was allegedly committed by the Zambian subsidiary of a UK company. This extraordinary ruling potentially paves the way for other plaintiffs to argue in a UK court that the US justice system is not up to the job of policing climate crimes.

Can UK fossil fuel companies now be held accountable for contributing to climate change overseas?

May 28, 2020 11.50pm AEST
Sam Varvastian
PhD researcher, Cardiff University

A ruling by the UK Supreme Court could have huge implications for British companies accused of environmental damage overseas. The April 2019 decision, in a case brought by a group of Zambian farmers against a London-based mining firm, establishes that UK parent companies can be held liable under UK law for the actions of their foreign subsidiaries. I analysed the implications of this case together with my colleague Felicity Kalunga, a PhD researcher at Cardiff University and a legal practitioner in Zambia, and our findings have just been published in Transnational Environmental Law.

A catalyst for this could be the decision of the UK Supreme Court in the case mentioned above: Vedanta v. Lungowe. At first glance, the case has nothing to do with fossil fuels or climate change. The case was brought by a group of 1,826 Zambian farmers, including one Mr Lungowe, who claimed that a copper mine had been discharging toxic emissions into the local watercourses used for drinking and irrigation.

The mine was operated by a local subsidiary of Vedanta, a huge global mining company headquartered in the UK. And it was the parent company that the claimants sued, and the jurisdiction of the UK courts that they sought. The farmers were represented by a London law firm Leigh Day on a “no win, no fee” basis.

The claimants’ theory was that the UK company had control over the operations of its Zambian subsidiary, as proven by the materials published by the company itself. Pursuing litigation against the subsidiary in Zambia would be ineffective for various reasons, including the subsidiary’s uncertain financial position and the lack of lawyers there experienced in dealing with such a case.

After nearly four years of litigation, the UK Supreme Court confirmed: UK parent companies can be held liable in such cases and UK courts have jurisdiction to hear such claims. This allowed the farmers to proceed with their substantive claims heard in the UK.

Read more: https://theconversation.com/can-uk-fossil-fuel-companies-now-be-held-accountable-for-contributing-to-climate-change-overseas-139007

The case which won the right of Zambian farmers to sue a UK firm for crimes allegedly committed in Zambia, without first obtaining an adverse judgement in a Zambian court, hinges on an EU law. From the press release provided by the UK Supreme Court:

… Article 4.1 of the Recast Brussels Regulation confers a right on any claimant (regardless of their domicile) to sue an English domiciled defendant in England irrespective of connecting factors to other jurisdictions [16]. Issue (1) presupposes that there is a real triable issue against Vedanta [17, 26]. Further, the judge’s finding that Vedanta was sued in England for the genuine purpose of obtaining damages, even though attracting English jurisdiction over KCM was a key contributing factor, is not open to challenge [27]. Any implied exception to the effect of article 4.1 must be construed narrowly [29-30]. The EU case law on abuse of law under article 8.1 (related defendants) is equally restrictive [31-34]. In that context, the test is whether the sole purpose of joining a defendant is to sue them other than in their Member State of domicile [35]. The EU case law also suggests that the abuse of law doctrine is limited to situations where EU law is invoked collusively to subvert other EU provisions [36]. In light of the decision in Owusu v Jackson (C-281/02) [2005] QB 801 (CJEU), arguments based on forum conveniens cannot justify derogating from the primary rule of jurisdiction in article 4.1 [36-40]. The concern about the wide effect of article 4.1 in this case is best addressed under the domestic law on the “necessary or proper party” gateway [40]. The claimants thus succeed on issue (1) [41].

Even if the court concludes that a foreign jurisdiction is the apparently the proper place, the court may still permit service of English proceedings on the foreign defendant if cogent evidence shows that there is a real risk that substantial justice would not be obtainable in that foreign jurisdiction [88]. In this case, the judge identified “access to justice” issues in Zambia [89]. It is not in doubt that Zambia has independent judges, courts and civil procedure which would ensure a just trial of large environmental group claims like this one [89]. The issues are twofold. First, the practicable impossibility of funding such group claims where the claimants are all in extreme poverty, because they could not obtain legal aid and because conditional fee agreements (CFAs) are unlawful in Zambia [89-90]. Secondly, the absence within Zambia of sufficiently substantial and suitably experienced legal teams to enable effective litigation of this size and complexity, in particular against a well-resourced opponent like KCM [89]. The criticisms that the judge failed in his approach to the access to justice issue are not well-founded [92-98]. Overall, the defendants fail on issue (4), which means their success on issue (3) is academic [101-102].

Read more: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2017-0185.html

If I have understood correctly, this assumption of transnational authority under EU rules (which during the transition period still apply in the UK) potentially opens the way for the UK and other European jurisdictions to sue US subsidiaries of UK companies for alleged climate crimes committed in the USA, without first obtaining an adverse judgement from a US court.

It might even make it possible for UK courts to sue UK based subsidiaries of US domiciled companies for alleged climate crimes committed in the USA, without first obtaining an adverse judgement from a US courts, providing climate activists with a means to hurt US businesses for activities conducted in the USA under US law.

All the plaintiff needs to do to persuade UK courts to attempt to assume authority in a foreign case is to convince the court that “substantial justice would not be obtainable in a foreign jurisdiction”. So if a plaintiff convinces a UK court that substantive climate justice would not be obtainable under US law, the UK court could potentially attempt to pass judgements over events which occurred in the USA under US jurisdiction, and attempt to collect damages from UK based companies connected to the US defendant.

Clearly it is up to governments outside the EU to consider potential abuses of this EU rule and the UK supreme court ruling, and place some limits on this arrogant assumption of transnational authority over business activities conducted in other countries, before the EU goes back to its old tricks of trying to dictate climate policy to the entire world.

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85 thoughts on “Transnational UK Supreme Court Ruling May Open the Floodgates for Global Climate Change Lawsuits

  1. By what logic does the British Supreme Court have the authority to transition *toward* more authority for EU rulings, when the whole point of transitioning out of the EU is obviously to transition *away* from such extranational authority?

    Without being a legal authority on these matters myself, would it be too common sense to suggest that the UK government should either demand some clarification as to the intent of this, and/or just say ‘No’ to the Supreme Court?

    • David,
      Currently the UK is still bound by EU laws and therefore the British Supreme Court has to take them into account when making a ruling. What will happen at the end of the transition period is perhaps still unclear but probably all EU rulings up until a certain date will become part of UK common law and will thus still be taken into account by the British Supreme Court.

        • Joey,
          In the 2018 EU withdrawal act specifically states that domestic laws that implements EU laws
          will remain valid. There is then a new category of “Retained EU laws” which includes all judgements of the EU court of justice plus lots of other categories of EU law. So legally speaking on the 1st of January 2021 not much will be different. Divergences in law will occcur
          slowly as courts make different decisions.

      • “still bound by EU laws” – this is why I thought it was crazy to do the Brexit on the EU’s terms.

        • We’re not. Currently there are no agreements between the EU and the UK, relative to departing the EU. Some laws have been incorporated into UK law, such as the GDPR, because, quite simply, the effect of not having them would halt any data exchange between the UK and the EU. Whether they will be retained after leaving is another thing altogether. As to law, the English courts can take into consideration laws and the rulings of courts in other countries anyway. Parliament makes the law, but Judges decide the extent of that law….it’s been that way for a century+. Nothing will change just because we think we are superior, and UK law does not apply in other countries either. This case is because the company is headquartered in the UK. All it has to do is remove itself from the jurisdiction of UK courts….IE: move to the EU!

    • By what logic??? Surely you don’t have to ask! The logic is dead simple: given the options that the court (a) does, or (b) does not, stick its nose into this dispute, it’s clear that option (a) delivers more power influence and hence income to the legal profession. So option (a) it is. See, it’s really simple.

  2. As far as I can tell, a case will not succeed unless it would succeed under British law with British plaintiffs. The fact that it happened on foreign ground doesn’t get around that principle.

    If British plaintiffs have tried to bring similar suits and have been rebuffed, plaintiffs from Ruritania will fare no better.

    • And the US will not recognize the ruling of foreign courts. If they did, where would it end?

      The same as the Chinese will not recognize the ruling of US courts, for the covid damage cases. When there is real money on the table, the rules change. The Chinese will eventually pay, but it will take more than the US courts to change something.

      Also when there are GDP problems the rules change. We are now living in the time of world GDP problems. There is as of yet, no catching name for the time of world GDP problems. It is as simple as all countries except for China are significantly poorer and must cut expenditures as they cannot borrow and more money. Sad really. Anyway…

      There is no money for GDP killing stuff. So, CAGW the stupid idea, is completely dead, until a solution is found for covid, so we can get our GDP going so there will be some GDP to waste on CAGW.

      • Then US companies will not be able to operate outside the US. If you operate in the UK, you have to abide by UK law. It’s that simple.

    • Yes I don’t think Eric’s really thought it thru. So you sue a US company in UK court system and even if you win in the UK court the US company rolls around laughing at you. The UK courts have no power to do anything the crime didn’t happen in the UK or against a UK citizen. Funnier still if the UK actually did try to do something the US would see it it as circumvention of it’s sovereignty and impose sanctions etc.

      We already have a case of how this all plays out in the US diplomat who had a hit and run incident and the US has refused to extradite back to the UK to face charges.

      • Completely different. The US citizen had diplomatic immunity. She is alleged to have committed a crime in the UK, and anybody who does that is subject to the jurisdiction of UK courts. Without the immunity she would be extradited.

  3. “opens the way for the UK and other European jurisdictions to sue US subsidiaries of UK companies for alleged climate crimes committed in the USA”

    Can the Zambian water pollution case be extended to climate change? Would the plaintif then have to present evidence of the harm caused and evidence to relate the objectionable action of the accused to the harm? Or can they simply invoke scientific consensus as an overriding evidence of all perceived climate harm?

    And if that is the case then would climate change denialism be a criminal act or at least a perceived harm for which compensation can be sought in courts?

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/06/22/climate-change-denial-research/

    • Can the Zambian water pollution case be extended to climate change?

      Exactly , and probably not. There’s a big difference between polluting a local waterway and emitting CO2. Further, this is not the first case in international law in which governments have ruled that their citizens and corporations can be held accountable for their actions in other countries. One can argue that it is a slippery slope, but shouldn’t they be? If this mining company indeed knew that their subsidiary was poisoning a water way, or worse directed them to dump waste into the waterway a cheap way to get rid of it, I would EXPECT them to be held accountable by their local government. Civilization requires that we be, civilized. Poisoning other people’s water for profit and then hiding behind the shield of international law and arms length distancing from a subsidiary which is nothing more than a paperwork construct to get away with such behaviour, is not civilization.

      I’m not saying that’s what happened, or that this company is guilty of what they are accused of. But if they are, they should be held accountable. Head office can’t get away with murder by pretending they’re not the head office, and as head office is in the UK….

      Nothing to do with climate change that I can see.

      • I suspect this case isn’t being driven by Zambian farmers. Much more likely to be the machinations of some Leftist quango.

        • If you were a poor farmer whose livelihood was destroyed because your livestock died and your irrigated crops failed because some company dumped toxic waste into your water source, what would you do? Would you not sue them? And if they threw up their hands and said sorry , we’re broke, we transferred all our profits to our parent company in another country, then what would you do? Walk away and starve?

          The question here is not, did that happen? The question is , if it did, do the farmers have the right to go after the parent company for damages. The answer had better be yes because if it isn’t, large companies with little or no morals will pollute and murder their way to profitability in 3rd world countries.

          The UK court says yes, just as many other 1st world democratic courts have said in other countries. Thank g_d that’s the case. Now the court will proceed to deciding if the accusations have merit. If its the machinations of a leftist quango, I imagine the absurdly high priced lawyers of a multi-national company will be able to expose that in court.

          • I continue to be amused by the mental terrors of those who have not conducted mining operations.
            Miners operate mines because society demands thir products. Imagine the squeals if combined aluminium producers said they were quitting. No more aluminium for aeroplanes, you globe-trotting lefties.
            Miners do minor damage to a few square miles around them. It is usually rehabiliated to high standards afterwards. You cannot dig a big hole in a way that satisfies agitators against big holes. The damage, managers hope and plan for, is commensurate with the demands of society for the products, not the demands of agitators.
            So, let us not get too hot in the tube attacking miners when the bigger battle is to remediate ignorance. If you illustrate your legal points with flowery descriptions of local farmers and stock getting poisoned, first show they were. Geoff S

          • “Geoff Sherrington June 1, 2020 at 12:31 am”

            Ah c’mon now. I used to make my aeroplanes out of wood and tissue paper, powered by rubber.

          • Geoff, as a former President/Director of a third world mining company attached to a Canadian (TSX-V) parent company (where I was also President and Director) I was curious about the basic claim that the mine activity caused health-threatening pollution. The Zambian Copper Belt is a Redbed copper-cobalt-silver mineralized belt of great length and a very long mining history. The pre-mining natural contamination was substantial (this is how the Romans learned to find copper deposits: look for natural pollution), the early mining history was poorly controlled, and the Vedanta Resources modern mining activity fairly well controlled, but suffered two spectacular tailings dam leaks. Local Zambia farmers have made claims that are not correct and they are supported by both environmental groups and corrupt officials. This is the kind of mess I personally would (and actually have) avoid. Bonanza, Nicaragua comes to mind. The issue of the Zambia pollution is extremely complex, both chemically and legally. It would be a tremendous leap of faith (and completely against any legitimate legal protocol) to extend the Zambia example to Climate Change Litigation. Doesn’t mean some persons may not try, but it’s just not the same. Stay sane and safe.

          • Geof – that’s completely unfair. I made it abundantly clear in my comments that I was not accusing the miners of anything. I was speaking strictly about the legal issues that should apply IF the accusations had merit. Please do not put words in my mouth.

      • This is already law in Canada, and indeed a Canadian company is breaking Canadian law by not using
        Canadian standards of occupational and technical best practices in mining operations. There is little doubt that the EU took its cues for their law from Canada which is recognized by the UN as the model for foreign mining developments by companies and individuals. I’m pretty sure that such legal aspects exist in Australia and US as well.

        The Canadian Standards for technical, economic and environmental aspects are coded under National Instrument (NI)43-101 and others in that series that identify “Qualified Persons” who must be such for all design of mines and process plants and even reporting in Press Peleases to the investment community require a declaration by the QP with name and engineering or geological qualifications for all projects domestic or foreign.

        Australia has the equivalent JORC code (google it), also internationally recognized. It is not well known outside of the industry that until rearly in the new millennium, Canadian companies were responsible for over 70% of global mining exploration and development, the capital raised mainly on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Ozzies began to recognize this potential leverage of their expertise in the field and presently they are neck and neck with Canadian mining investors internationally since about 2010.

        If pollution of local streams did take place, I’m all for the ability for local claimants to sue the company at home. Having said that, there is a history of anti-mining NGOs who in the past have held-up developments and made foreign financial investments unattractive, essentially contributing to perpetual poverty of African countries.

        A difficult aspect to these types of claims in a place like Zambia is the fact that the Zambian Copper Belt is a huge producer of copper and associated metals globally and it has been since colonial times. Unless the pollution is unequivocally from the UK company’s property, it could be from a hundred old workings or from other operators, in part or in whole. This case will not be decided by the plaintiff or its lawyers and is going to need outside technical experts to definitively show the source of pollution. Sign me up!

      • not the first
        Nguinea sued goldmine mob that the holier than thou ross Gauraut(guano) was tied into.
        OCTEDI mines runined waters and soils with toxic sludge etc
        and were made to pay reparation n fix damage i gather
        and so they should!
        ditto if a UK subsidiary goes n shits in someones land n water, which theyd never consider doing at home(or be allowed to ) then hitting the UK head corp is fair and just.
        if usa does it os to people n places and cant do it at home?
        then same right to hit the parent co should be applied.
        move in for cheap land water labout whatever but dont abuse the priveledge!
        and if you want your wages and jobs to stay then paying fair wages TO os workers, in their own lands, would make things more balanced .
        The chinese make the mistake of bringing their own in precluding mush work for locals and ripping the guts outof whatever they buy up
        isnt making any friends
        but then so many fine examplesof commercial pillage from so many other 1st world nations to follow(and yes Aus inc)

    • As I read it, the ruling forces UK companies to follow UK laws, regardless of where they operate in the world. That would include environmental laws.
      Of course if UK laws are stupid in the first place, then you can’t escape them by just forming a subsidiary in another country.
      It would be interesting to see how the courts rule in the case where a UK law is in direct opposition to a local law.

      • Ultimately even if they could enforce it UK companies would simply move the parent company to another country to control the liability.

    • In an English court you have to present evidence of actual damage caused, not just some theoretical claim. I don’t see how this case allows anything much.

  4. WTF is a climate crime? The only thing I can think of is misrepresenting the science for political and/or economic gain. Does this ruling also mean the IPCC can be sued in UK courts for it’s crimes?

  5. Good. Let other countries hang themselves. The sooner they realize the lunacy the better. After 30 years of this farce and still people haven’t learned their lesson, it’s obvious it has to get much worse before it gets better.

  6. What authority over US companies or UK companies operating in the US does the UK court system have? President Trump doesn’t take lightly to foreign companies trying to screw the US, which is what is likely to happen.

    • The ruling claims extra control by UK courts over UK companies that have subsidiaries in other countries.
      The UK courts have always had authority over subsidiaries inside the UK.
      There is no new power over US companies or subsidiaries.

  7. ” …the UK court could potentially attempt to pass judgements over events which occurred in the USA under US jurisdiction…”.
    If that can work one way it can equally work in reverse.

    • Lady Justice is holding a double edge sword. Blindfolded, I’m not so sure.

    • The new power is to fine UK companies, in the UK over actions by these companies take in other countries that violate UK laws.
      They aren’t claiming any power over US companies operating in the US.

  8. What I write here may be nonsense as it is based purely on my understanding, and I am not a lawyer of any kind. Perhaps Lord Monckton can help.
    Before our Supreme Court was created the highest court was the House of Lords. Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders could in theory appeal to the HoL as the U.K. monarch was also monarch of those three countries.
    Zambia was a U.K. territory and would have had the same right of appeal to the HoL, on independence this right may have been included in their new constitution as members of the U.K. commonwealth.
    The HoL was replaced by the Supreme Court, but whether the situation previously described still applies I do not know.
    Also, the wording of any contracts could include the jurisdiction that prevails in any dispute. In theory a contract between Lockheed Martin and BAe could be written such that English or Scottish law prevails (English and Scots law have always been different).

  9. I continue to be amused by the mental terrors of those who have not conducted mining operations.
    Miners operate mines because society demands thir products. Imagine the squeals if combined aluminium producers said they were quitting. No more aluminium for aeroplanes, you globe-trotting lefties.
    Miners do minor damage to a few square miles around them. It is usually rehabiliated to high standards afterwards. You cannot dig a big hole in a way that satisfies agitators against big holes. The damage, managers hope and plan for, is commensurate with the demands of society for the products, not the demands of agitators.
    So, let us not get too hot in the tube attacking miners when the bigger battle is to remediate ignorance. If you illustrate your legal points with flowery descriptions of local farmers and stock getting poisoned, first show they were. Geoff S

  10. This is as it should be, the responsible body resides in the UK, and can be prosecuted in the UK. Same as paedophiles returning fro Thailand can be prosecuted in the UK, even though the offense was not committed there.

    However proving toxic poisoning of a river is very different to proving CO2 is damaging the planet, so I wouldnt assume this case has any impact on climate change.

  11. Actually, a ‘climate change’ test case might turn out not to be a bad thing.

    Courts are obliged to examine the balance of evidence impartially.

    • We saw during the proroguing of parliament case that the supreme court is full of Blair appointed lefties so we can be pretty certain of the outcome if a climate case was to be brought before the court. Instead of interpreting law and applying it they make it up as they go along. Impartiality not much.

    • Courts are also entitled to appoint “experts” to explain to the court what the evidence is.
      All they have to do is appoint only experts that agree with the pre-determined decision.

    • Thank back to how the US EPA came up with its endangerment finding on CO2. Impartial review of facts was not part of the process.

  12. Leigh Day solicitors worked closely with ‘Public Interest Lawyers’ which cost the UK taxpayer over £30 million pounds on a public inquiry, by bringing false claims by Iraqis against the Ministry of Defence. The inquiry had been set up to investigate allegations that Iraqi detainees had been “murdered, mutilated and tortured” following the Battle of Danny Boy. The Inquiry instead found that British forces responded to a deadly ambush by insurgents with “exemplary courage, resolution and professionalism”, but also found that the conduct of some soldiers towards detainees breached the Geneva Convention.

    Public Interest Lawyers solicitor, Phil Shiner, was struck off after being found guilty of 22 charges of misconduct including dishonesty and a lack of integrity, including paying prohibited payments for referrals. They failed to disclose documents they held, which proved the claimants (who had alleged they were “innocent bystanders”) were all members of a murderous militia group, who had ambushed British troops in the Battle of ‘Danny Boy’.

    Charges of misconduct against Leigh Day solicitors for failing to disclose evidence its Iraqi clients were not innocent bystanders, but members of the murderous militia group, who had attacked and killed British troops, were found to be unproven. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal agreed with the defence argument that it could have been human error rather than misconduct.

  13. Sam the PhD researcher from Cardiff is salivating at the thought that US companies might be dragged through UK or EU courts by GangGreen activists.

    I wouldn’t be surprised, although it will be interesting to see how quickly US subsidiaries are ‘let go’ if that starts.

    But spare a thought for poor Chairman Xi and the Chinese Politburo. It is self evident that Chinese Climate Crimes are several orders of magnitude worse than their American competitors. No doubt the Politburo will now be sobbing into their pillows, unable to sleep. Will Sam from Cardiff be leading the charge?

    That will be interesting.

  14. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with UK politicians, civil “servants”, and legal system. Take a law/regulation /recommendation and apply it in the most extreme way possible. Then when when it goes wrong then blame everyone else especially the EU. Like “Bigger boys did it and ran away”

    The British public, for some unknown reason, is happy with that excuse and just goes on with life grumbling.

    • As long as the supply of free stuff remains uninterrupted, you can expect most of them to ignore everything else.

  15. Doesn’t the Constitution say that no foreign prince shall hold sway over the lands and the citizens of the USA?

    • Most countries follow that rule it’s called sovereignty … perhaps the UK High Court is so used to cowtailing to the EU court they have forgotten what sovereignty looks.

  16. Some of the comments here as well as the action of the UK Supreme Court indicate a woeful ignorance of the situation in African countries. Neither problems with coping with the climate nor pollution address and fix the real underlying problems: corruption, fraud, theft, mismanagement and incompetence. The billions that first world countries have poured into Africa since the independence wave began sweeping over the continent some sixty years ago have vanished like morning mist. African does not need “Band Aid” or “Band-Aids” but law and order, hard work, proper use of abundant resources and taking advantage of fantastic weather – compared to Europe – and plenty of land that could be producing good harvests.

  17. This is nothing.
    When something goes really bad like the Grenfell Tower, the lawyers throw the shit at the fan to see who it sticks to.
    The building in uk but cladding made in France by USA company. Lawsuits everywhere. Lawyers love it.

  18. In the end the Supreme Court held in Norris vs Government of the USA that UK citizens can be extradited to the USA for matters requiring criminal standards of proof… An argument that the USA is incapable of adjudicating civil suits at a lower standard of proof would be laughed out of court.

    • I can see this devolving into a case where UK courts rule that US laws are insufficient. Such as the US not to regulating CO2 emissions to the same standard as the UK.
      If it’s not illegal in the US, then there is no judicial remedy available in the US.

      • If you load up on ant-depressants and wade through the verbose thing:

        https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2017-0185-judgment.pdf

        You’ll find that what swung it the claimants way was the ability (or otherwise) of the claimants to obtain and fund the necessary medical and expert evidence, and the lack of legal expertise in Zambia.

        “Having rejected the appellants’ case on abuse of EU law and real triable issue,
        but having upheld their case on proper place, I would, but for their failure on the
        issue as to substantial justice, have been minded to allow their appeal. As it is
        however I consider that this appeal should be dismissed, on the substantial justice
        issue.”

        There is no viable argument that those circumstances can be said to exist in the USA…

  19. “they could not obtain legal aid and because conditional fee agreements (CFAs) are unlawful in Zambia”

    But those are legal in the U.S., so there’s no threat there.

  20. So the UK Supreme Court is reviving the British Empire? I suspect the former colonies might have something to say about that.

    • If they were suing foreign firms for actions committed in other countries.
      In this case they are suing UK firms for actions committed in other countries.
      The logical outcome of this would be UK firms quickly limiting their UK exposure. That is moving as much of their operations out of the UK as they can.

      • The action took place in a foreign country, by a foreign company incorporated in that country. That the foreign company is controlled by a UK company is legally irrelevant as it is a separate body. The court is creating a market of venue shopping for anyone with an agenda which will have blowback.

  21. Michael in Dublin – that’s absolutely right – start with corruption, fraud, theft, mismanagement and incompetence – then watch the economy grow like a mushroom. It really would happen. Hard work, abundant resources and fine weather would be rewarded, instead of being thrown away. Then foreign investors in other sectors than mineral resources would start piling in. Africa has totally used up the ‘we were the victims of colonization’ excuse for impoverishment. The problems now start at home, in Africa. Africans can solve them, not foreign courts or foreign NGOs.

    • Maybe if we hadn’t just handed over cash in the first place, a lot of the corruption could have been avoided. What if all aid had been in terms of specific projects, like rural electrification, or railway construction, or even smaller, locally-focused projects?

      I know zip about conditions all over Africa, but it doesn’t take a great statesman to know than handing over cash causes a world of corruption and graft.

  22. Could this be extended to cover the issues raised in a previous WUWT item? If so, this might kill renewables (as wooden stakes through its heart have so far failed).

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/05/31/destroying-the-environment-to-save-it/

    Will Dominion and Virginia require that all these raw materials and wind, solar and battery components be responsibly sourced? Will it require independently verified certifications that none of them involve child labor, and all are produced in compliance with US and Virginia laws, regulations and ethical codes for workplace safety, fair wages, air and water pollution, wildlife preservation, cancer prevention and mined lands reclamation? Will they tally up all the fossil fuels consumed, and pollutants emitted, in the process?

  23. Wouldn’t the plaintiff first have to demonstrate there had been “climate change” in the first place?

  24. How the hell anyone can prove in a Court of Law, based on the rules of evidence, that something happened because of ‘climate change’ is a mystery.

    Firstly, what is the meaning of climate change in a Court of law? Is it the common meaning laymen understand as a change in the climate over the years? Is it the IPCC meaning – catastrophic global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions from human activities?

    Secondly, how can anyone prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that something happened because of ‘climate change’?

    Then there is the issue of catastrophic man-made global warming… when there is actually no discernible evidence of such a thing.

    And if “the science” is dragged into Court, presumably the IPCC reports, skeptics can produce more studies to debunk the cherry picked science of the IPCC.

    Then, of course, there is the question of how on earth can it be proven in a Court of Law, when scientists can’t do it, as to just how much the climate changes due to human activity carbon dioxide as opposed to natural climate variability?

    Legal action involving climate change will always fail unless judges begin to administer ideology rather than the law as climate activist judges.

  25. This bunch of judicial thugs got in the way of Brexit by dissing UK constitutional law now want to be the Judicial authority for the world.

    Shut it down; Now

  26. The Zambian Copperbelt extends for 100’s of miles along the Congo Border and over it. My first job was as an exploration geologist for Anglo American extending their ore bodies around their existing mines. To find potential ore bodies we started with regional geochemical recconaisance which involved cutting numerous lines through the bush then doing traverses to take samples of the soil and observe the vegetation. The holy grail was to find a copper clearing and the blue copper flower in the middle of it – which gave an indication of high concentrations of copper in the soils – potentially from an underlying ore body. It is therefore not surprising that crops cannot survive in soils impacted by copper. The presence of copper and associated minerals (including cobalt) is a fact of Zambian soils and proving that any “polllution” is from the impact of mining would be extremely difficult. It is no surprise that Zambia has one of the highest incidences of lightning in the world. Think about it.

  27. Is this really as surprising as it looks at first glance…

    What appears to be the case is that the Zambian subsidiary of Vedanta was merely a “shelf company”. Real executive and operational control of that subsidiary lay in the hands of Vedanta London. That is what the evidence suggested.

    The Zambian subsidiary attempted to argue Zambian claimants should come against them in Zambia, rather than suing Vedanta in England, where Vedanta is domiciled. They failed because it was established operational and management control lay in London.

    The Law Lords were persuaded on the evidence that Vedanta UK was completely in control of the subsidiary.

    There is no impediment to a foreign claimant pursuing a claim against a UK registered company in UK.

    The only hurdle to jump was demonstrating the Zambian subsidiary was NOT the only defendant.

    The is not much new here.

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