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Ruling in claim brought by almost 2,000 Zambian villagers against UK and Zambian mining companies

Related Member(s):
Richard Hermer QC, Edward Craven
Related Practice Area(s):
Environmental Law and Natural Resources, Public and Private International Law

The High Court has ruled that a claim brought by almost 2,000 Zambians against Vedanta Resources PLC, a UK multinational mining company, and its Zambian subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines PLC, should proceed to trial in England.  The Claimants are residents of four villages in the Chingola district of Zambia, one of the poorest countries in the world.  They allege they have suffered extensive personal injuries, damage to land and loss of income as a result of widespread toxic pollution from the Nchanga Copper Mine, the world’s second largest open cast mine.  The Defendants contested the jurisdiction of the English courts to hear the case, arguing that the claims should be tried in Zambia instead. In a judgment handed down today the High Court rejected both challenges.  Mr Justice Coulson ruled that the Claimants have a right to bring proceedings in England against a UK parent company and that England is the appropriate forum for the trial of the claims against both defendants.  In addition, the judge decided that since the claimants would “almost certainly not get access to justice” if the claims were pursued in Zambia, the interests of justice required the claim to proceed in England in any event.  Richard Hermer QC and Edward Craven represent the Claimants.