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UK: Zambian Natives Win Right To Sue UK Mining Company For Pollution

By Published October 17, 2017

In a ruling that could lead to other multinationals being pursued in mass tort litigation for their operations overseas, nearly 2,000 Zambian natives have won the right to sue Vedanta Resources – a UK mining company.

The Appeal court in London have thrown Vedanta’s attempt to block the Zambians’ legal action over pollution and environmental degradation of their villages.

Vedanta said in a statement it would seek the right to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest in the English legal system, adding the decision was on jurisdiction only and “was not a ruling or a determination on the merits of the claims”.

Three senior High Court judges dismissed an appeal by Vedanta and its Zambian subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) against a ruling in May last year when a High Court judge decided the claim could proceed in the English courts on behalf of 1,826 Zambian villagers.

The villagers allege that their land and livelihood have been destroyed by water pollution caused by the Nchanga Copper Mine, which is owned by Vedanta through its subsidiary CM.

London law firm Leigh Day argued the English courts were the only route for the villagers to achieve justice, Vedanta however argued that Zambia was the appropriate jurisdiction.

On behalf of the Zambian claimants, Raphael Karima, Community Secretary of Hippo Pool, a village near the Nchanga mine, said his community looked forward to “a just process”.

Martyn Day, senior partner at Leigh Day, said the ruling was “a very important step forward in our clients’ fight for justice”.

Separately, Leigh Day is representing residents from the Niger Delta, Nigeria in another case against Royal Dutch Shell and has appealed against a High Court ruling earlier this year that the company could not be sued in London over oil spills in Nigeria.

That case will be next heard in November.

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