Lusaka, April 10, 2019, ZANIS ----The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom today announced its verdict in the landmark case of the Zambian communities consistently polluted by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a subsidiary of the British mining company, Vedanta Resources Plc, allowing them to have their case against the parent company and its subsidiary tried in the United Kingdom.

The ruling sets a strong legal precedent which will allow people with claims against subsidiaries of British multinationals to sue the parent company in the UK.

The judgement by Chief Justice Lady Hale, and four other judges, re-affirms the rulings of the Court of Technology and Construction in 2016 and the Court of Appeal in 2017.

Lady Hale refused Vedanta's pleas in appealing the former judgments stating that, contrary to the claims of Vedanta's lawyers, the claimants do have a bona fide claim against Vedanta and that the company does owe a duty of care to the claimants, especially in view of the existence of company’s policies on environment and health and safety.

The 1,826 claimants, represented by the UK law firm Leigh Day, are from farming and fishing communities downstream of KCM's mines and plants.

They claim to have suffered continual pollution since UK firm Vedanta Resources bought KCM in 2004, including a major incident in 2006, which turned the River Kafue bright blue with copper sulphate and acid, and poisoned water sources for 40,000 people

Additionally, despite the 2,001 claimants having sued KCM to court in Zambia in 2007, the courts found KCM guilty.

It was due to this development that the victims decided to take the case to the UK lawyers.

However, a long term campaigner in the case, and lead claimant in the Zambian cases, James Nyasulu from Chingola, issued in a statement obtained by ZANIS this afternoon explained that the Supreme Court judgment will finally enable justice for the thousands of victims of pollution by KCM's mining activities, who have suffered immensely since 2006 to date, in the Chingola district of Zambia.

“Their livelihoods, land and health have been irreparably damaged by pollution which has rendered the River Kafue completely polluted and unable to support aquatic life. Some have already died as a result.

We are very grateful to the British Supreme Court for allowing the case to be tried in the UK where we trust that justice will finally be done.

Now that the Supreme Court has confirmed their permission to have the case tried in the UK the case itself can begin” said Mr Nyasulu.

However, Vedanta remains liable in the UK for damages arising from the Zambian case.

And the British Broadcasting Corporation world news report monitored this afternoon confirms the development affirming that nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers have won the right to sue the mining giant, Vedanta, over alleged pollution, the UK Supreme Court has ruled.

Zambian villagers have been fighting for the right to seek compensation in the British courts for several years.

Vedanta had argued that the case should be heard in Zambia.

The case relates to allegations by villagers living near the Nchanga Copper mine, owned by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta.

Martyn Day, senior partner at law firm Leigh Day, which is representing the Zambian villagers, said it hoped that the judgment will send a strong message to other large multinationals that their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies should not just be seen as a polish for their reputation but as important commitments that they must put into action

 

 

 

 

 

 

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