Breaking News
Black Friday SALE: Up to 54% off InvestingPro! Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

English judge blocks 5 billion pound Brazil lawsuit against BHP over burst dam

Stock MarketsNov 09, 2020 18:26
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
5/5 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Residents observe the Bento Rodrigues district covered with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst in Mariana 2/5

By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) - A 5.0 billion pound English lawsuit against Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP (L:BHPB) (AX:BHP) has been struck out, in a blow to a 200,000-strong Brazilian claimant group seeking damages after a devastating dam failure in 2015.

A High Court judge in Manchester ruled that managing the largest group claim in English legal history would be like "trying to build a house of cards in a wind tunnel" and the case was an "abuse of the process of the court".

BHP welcomed the decision, which it said reinforced its view that victims should pursue claims in Brazil and that the case duplicated ongoing work and legal proceedings there.

Tom Goodhead, a lawyer at PGMBM representing the claimants, called the judgment "fundamentally flawed" and vowed to appeal.

"We will continue to fight ceaselessly, for however long it takes, in any court in the world, to ensure that BHP are held accountable for their actions," he said.

The collapse of the Fundao dam, which is owned by the Samarco joint venture between BHP and Brazilian iron ore mining giant Vale (SA:VALE3), killed 19 and sent a torrent of mining waste into communities, the Doce river, and the Atlantic Ocean, 650 kilometres (400 miles) away. It was Brazil's worst environmental disaster.

The case is the latest battle to establish whether multinationals can be held liable for the conduct of subsidiaries abroad.

The ruling comes about 18 months after the UK Supreme Court ruled that nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers could sue miner Vedanta in England for alleged pollution in Africa because substantial justice was not obtainable in Zambia.

Leigh Day partner Martyn Day, who represented the Zambian villagers, said he took his hat off to the Brazilian claimants' legal team for "having the guts" to take on the vast case.

"The judge seems to me to have been tough on the claimants," he said. "The question for the appeal court will be whether or not he was too tough."

Claimants alleged senior BHP executives sat on Samarco's board, that BHP representatives approved of plans to repeatedly ramp up the dam's capacity, ignoring safety warnings, and that victims have no prospect of proper compensation in Brazil within a reasonable timeframe.

Lawyers for the claimants, who include municipalities, indigenous people, businesses and churches, also argued that under Brazilian law, liability for environmental damage could be imposed on a defendant's ultimate owner.

BHP says it and Vale each poured about $1.7 billion (£1.2 billion) into the Renova Foundation, set up in 2016 by BHP's Brazilian division, Samarco and Vale to manage 42 reparation projects, including providing financial aid to indigenous families, rebuilding villages and establishing new water supply systems.

English judge blocks 5 billion pound Brazil lawsuit against BHP over burst dam
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email