Nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers have the right to sue mining company Vedanta in the English courts, the Supreme Court in London said today.
Vedanta, which operates as KCM in Zambia and delisted from London last year but maintains a legal base in Britain, appealed a lower-court ruling that a case in which villagers alleged their land was polluted by a Vedanta unit could be heard in England.
The villagers sued KCM in London but KCM has been fighting to have the case heard in Zambia where they can easily bribe judges.
But the UK Supreme Court said the Zambian villagers should pursue their case through the English courts.
The villagers accuse KCM of poisoning their water through pollution.
In Shame, KCM issued this statement:
Please see press release below for your attention;
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VEDANTA AND KCM NOTE PROCEDURAL DECISION BY
UK SUPREME COURT ON JURISDICTION
10 April 2019. The UK Supreme Court has today handed down its decision in the jurisdictional matter argued before it in January 2019. Vedanta Resources Limited (Vedanta) and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) had appealed the English Court of Appeal’s judgment released on 13 October 2017 that claims by Zambian residents against Vedanta and KCM related to KCM’s operations in Zambia could be adjudicated by the English courts.
The UK Supreme Court has dismissed these appeals and held that the English court has jurisdiction to try these claims. The Supreme Court did, however, agree with Vedanta and KCM that England is not the proper place for the trial of these claims and overturned the lower courts on this point.
The UK Supreme Court found that (whether or not an appellate court might reach a different conclusion upon a review of the same evidence) the High Court was entitled to conclude on the evidence before it that there is a real risk that “substantial justice” will not be obtainable in Zambia, and because of this, the claims may nonetheless be heard in the English court.
The judgment of the UK Supreme Court is a procedural one and relates only to the jurisdiction of the English court to hear these claims. It is not a judgment on the merits of the claims. Vedanta and KCM will defend themselves against any such claims at the appropriate time.
For further information, please contact:
General Manager Corporate Affairs, KCM