Published On: Thu, Jan 24th, 2019

UK mining company may be liable for pollution by Zambian subsidiary

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By Mashe Umaru Gwamna

British mining company’s appeal to Supreme Court to prevent Zambian pollution case being tried in UK to be heard on 15th and 16th January in London.
The hearing will be met with protests in London demanding justice in the twelve year case on behalf of the thousands of victims.
The case could set a precedent for ‘duty of care’ owed by a UK parent company to communities affected by a foreign subsidiary.
The latest hearing in the case of the Zambian communities consistently polluted by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a subsidiary of British miner Vedanta, will be heard at the British Supreme Court on 15th and 16th January 2019(1). A rally organised by solidarity organisation Foil Vedanta(2) with a variety of other groups, will take place
outside the court in solidarity with the victims of ongoing pollution who have been fighting legal battles for justice in Zambia, and now the UK, for twelve years.
On 15th and 16th January 2019 the Supreme Court will hear Vedanta’s second appeal against the High Court’s jurisdiction ruling in the case of Dominic Liswaniso Lungowe vs Vedanta Resources and Konkola Copper Mines. Vedanta will attempt to overturn the High Court and Court of Appeal rulings which held that the case of 1,826 polluted farmers against the company and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines could be heard in the UK
instead of Zambia. The case could represent a precedent in UK law, as, if a duty of care is found to be owed by Vedanta towards the claimants, this would be the first reported case in which a parent company would have been held to owe a duty of care to a person affected by the operations of a subsidiary who is not an employee of the subsidiary.12
This ruling could have major implications for British multinational corporations’ liability, a move which would be welcomed by British Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who expressed solidarity with the claimants, stating:
“When British corporations like Vedanta cause toxic pollution overseas, it’s absolutely right that they pay for the damage. I stand in solidarity with all those whose drinking
water has been poisoned and livelihoods damaged by Vedanta’s irresponsible pursuit of profit, and all those campaigning for justice.”

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