Landmark Supreme Court judgment on jurisdiction and UK parent company liability for overseas rights violations


In a landmark judgment on jurisdiction and parent company liability, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that a community of 1,800 impoverished Zambians can pursue claims for widespread environmental damage and personal injuries before the English courts against Vedanta Resources Plc, the UK parent company of a multinational mining and minerals Group, and its Zambian subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines Plc. The claims concern numerous discharges of toxic waste into the waterways surrounding the Nchanga Copper Mine, the world’s second largest open cast copper mine, in the Copperbelt region of Zambia. The Supreme Court ruled that a UK parent company such as Vedanta may owe a duty of care to individuals and local communities who suffer harm as a result of the hazardous operations of its overseas subsidiary. The Court also held that the High Court was entitled to conclude that the claimants would almost certainly not be able to obtain effective justice against the defendants in Zambia. Accordingly, the claimants are entitled to pursue their claims against both companies before the English courts.

Richard Hermer QC and Edward Craven represented the successful claimants and were instructed by Leigh Day.

A link to the judgment and a summary can be found here.