Landmark ruling for Zambian villagers
Mining companies and oil producers could face legal action in the UK for environmental damage or human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world after a landmark supreme court ruling.
The UK’s highest court has ruled that 1,800 villagers in Zambia can sue Vedanta Resources for alleged contamination of water supplies by its subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines.
Judges rejected Vedanta’s appeal against two rulings in the villagers’ favour by the high court and court of appeal.
The judges agreed that Vedanta was ultimately liable as the parent company of Konkola, which was the operator of the mine.
The supreme court also ruled that although the UK was not necessarily the proper place to hear the claim, it could be aired in the UK because the Zambians might not win substantial justice at home due to lack of access to funds and experienced lawyers.
The villagers will now take their case to the high court, where they will allege that they have suffered loss of livelihoods because of damage to farmland and health problems due to drinking contaminated water.