Supreme Court of Canada rules Ecuador villagers can go ahead with US$9.5-billion legal case against Chevron; Welcome to Hell & fighting it out on the ice

To read the full decision in Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguaje, [2015, SCC]

SUPREME COURT OF CANADA

Citation: Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguaje, 2015 SCC 42 Date: 20150904

Docket: 35682

Between:

Chevron Corporation and Chevron Canada Limited

Appellants

and

Daniel Carlos Lusitande Yaiguaje, Benancio Fredy Chimbo Grefa,

Miguel Mario Payaguaje Payaguaje, Teodoro Gonzalo Piaguaje Payaguaje,

Simon Lusitande Yaiguaje, Armando Wilmer Piaguaje Payaguaje,

Angel Justino Piaguaje Lucitante, Javier Piaguaje Payaguaje, Fermin Piaguaje,

Luis Agustin Payaguaje Piaguaje, Emilio Martin Lusitande Yaiguaje,

Reinaldo Lusitande Yaiguaje, Maria Victoria Aguinda Salazar,

Carlos Grefa Huatatoca, Catalina Antonia Aguinda Salazar,

Lidia Alexandria Aguinda Aguinda, Clide Ramiro Aguinda Aguinda,

Luis Armando Chimbo Yumbo, Beatriz Mercedes Grefa Tanguila,

Lucio Enrique Grefa Tanguila, Patricio Wilson Aguinda Aguinda,

Patricio Alberto Chimbo Yumbo, Segundo Angel Amanta Milan,

Francisco Matias Alvarado Yumbo, Olga Gloria Grefa Cerda,

Narcisa Aida Tanguila Narvaez, Bertha Antonia Yumbo Tanguila,

Gloria Lucrecia Tanguila Grefa, Francisco Victor Tanguila Grefa,

Rosa Teresa Chimbo Tanguila, Maria Clelia Reascos Revelo,

Heleodoro Pataron Guaraca, Celia Irene Viveros Cusangua,

Lorenzo Jose Alvarado Yumbo, Francisco Alvarado Yumbo,

Jose Gabriel Revelo Llore, Luisa Delia Tanguila Narvaez,

Jose Miguel Ipiales Chicaiza, Hugo Gerardo Camacho Naranjo,

Maria Magdalena Rodriguez Barcenes, Elias Roberto Piyahuaje Payahuaje,

Lourdes Beatriz Chimbo Tanguila, Octavio Ismael Cordova Huanca,

Maria Hortencia Viveros Cusangua, Guillermo Vincente Payaguaje Lusitante,

Alfredo Donaldo Payaguaje Payaguaje and Delfin Leonidas Payaguaje Payaguaje

Respondents

– and –

International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, MiningWatch Canada, Canadian Centre for International Justice and

Justice and Corporate Accountability Project

Interveners

Coram: McLachlin C.J. and Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Karakatsanis, Wagner and Gascon JJ.

Reasons for Judgment:

(paras. 1 to 96)

Gascon J. (McLachlin C.J. and Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Karakatsanis and Wagner JJ. concurring)

Note: This document is subject to editorial revision before its reproduction in final form in the Canada Supreme Court Reports.

chevron corp. v. yaiguaje

Chevron Corporation and

Chevron Canada Limited                                                                             Appellants

v.

Daniel Carlos Lusitande Yaiguaje, Benancio Fredy Chimbo Grefa,

Miguel Mario Payaguaje Payaguaje, Teodoro Gonzalo Piaguaje Payaguaje, Simon Lusitande Yaiguaje, Armando Wilmer Piaguaje Payaguaje,

Angel Justino Piaguaje Lucitante, Javier Piaguaje Payaguaje, Fermin Piaguaje, Luis Agustin Payaguaje Piaguaje, Emilio Martin Lusitande Yaiguaje,

Reinaldo Lusitande Yaiguaje, Maria Victoria Aguinda Salazar,

Carlos Grefa Huatatoca, Catalina Antonia Aguinda Salazar,

Lidia Alexandria Aguinda Aguinda, Clide Ramiro Aguinda Aguinda,

Luis Armando Chimbo Yumbo, Beatriz Mercedes Grefa Tanguila,

Lucio Enrique Grefa Tanguila, Patricio Wilson Aguinda Aguinda,

Patricio Alberto Chimbo Yumbo, Segundo Angel Amanta Milan,

Francisco Matias Alvarado Yumbo, Olga Gloria Grefa Cerda,

Narcisa Aida Tanguila Narvaez, Bertha Antonia Yumbo Tanguila,

Gloria Lucrecia Tanguila Grefa, Francisco Victor Tanguila Grefa,

Rosa Teresa Chimbo Tanguila, Maria Clelia Reascos Revelo,

Heleodoro Pataron Guaraca, Celia Irene Viveros Cusangua,

Lorenzo Jose Alvarado Yumbo, Francisco Alvarado Yumbo,

Jose Gabriel Revelo Llore, Luisa Delia Tanguila Narvaez,

Jose Miguel Ipiales Chicaiza, Hugo Gerardo Camacho Naranjo,

Maria Magdalena Rodriguez Barcenes, Elias Roberto Piyahuaje Payahuaje, Lourdes Beatriz Chimbo Tanguila, Octavio Ismael Cordova Huanca,

Maria Hortencia Viveros Cusangua, Guillermo Vincente Payaguaje Lusitante,

Alfredo Donaldo Payaguaje Payaguaje and

Delfin Leonidas Payaguaje Payaguaje                                                     Respondents

and

International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto

Faculty of Law, MiningWatch Canada,

Canadian Centre for International Justice and

Justice and Corporate Accountability Project                                           Interveners

Indexed as: Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguaje

2015 SCC 42

File No.: 35682.

2014: December 11; 2015: September 4.

Present: McLachlin C.J. and Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Karakatsanis, Wagner and Gascon JJ.

on appeal from the court of appeal for ontario

Private international law — Foreign judgments — Recognition — Enforcement — Foreign judgment creditor sought recognition and enforcement of foreign judgment in Ontario against U.S. foreign judgment debtor’s and Canadian seventh‑level indirect subsidiary — Foreign judgment debtor served ex juris at U.S. head office — Subsidiary served in juris at place of business in Ontario — Whether a real and substantial connection must exist between defendant or dispute and Ontario for jurisdiction to be established — Whether Ontario courts have jurisdiction over foreign judgment debtor’s subsidiary when subsidiary is a third party to the judgment for which recognition and enforcement is sought.

The oil‑rich Lago Agrio region of Ecuador has long attracted the exploration and extraction activities of global oil companies, including Texaco. As a result of those activities, the region is said to have suffered extensive environmental pollution that has disrupted the lives and jeopardized the futures of its residents. For over 20 years, the 47 respondents/plaintiffs, who represent approximately 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorian villagers, have been seeking legal accountability and financial and environmental reparation for harms they allegedly suffered due to Texaco’s former operations in the region. Texaco has since merged with Chevron, a U.S. corporation. The Appellate Division of the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbíos affirmed an Ecuadorian trial judge’s award of US$8.6 billion in environmental damages and US$8.6 billion in punitive damages against Chevron. Ecuador’s Court of Cassation upheld the judgment except on the issue of punitive damages. In the end, the total amount owed was reduced to US$9.51 billion.

Since the initial judgment, Chevron has fought the plaintiffs in the U.S. courts and has refused to acknowledge or pay the debt. As Chevron does not hold any Ecuadorian assets, the plaintiffs commenced an action for recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. It served Chevron at its head office in California, and served Chevron Canada, a seventh‑level indirect subsidiary of Chevron, first at an extra‑provincially registered office in British Columbia, and then at its place of business in Ontario. Inter alia, the plaintiffs sought the Canadian equivalent of the award resulting from the judgment of the Appellate Division of the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbíos. Chevron and Chevron Canada each sought orders setting aside service ex juris of the amended statement of claim, declaring that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the action, and dismissing or permanently staying the action.

The motion judge ruled in the plaintiffs’ favour with respect to jurisdiction. However, he exercised the court’s power to stay the proceeding on its own initiative pursuant to s. 106 of the OntarioCourts of Justice Act. The Court of Appeal held this was not an appropriate case in which to impose a discretionary stay under s. 106. On the jurisdictional issue, it held that, as the foreign court had a real and substantial connection with the subject matter of the dispute or with the defendant, an Ontario court has jurisdiction to determine whether the foreign judgment should be recognized and enforced in Ontario against Chevron. With respect to Chevron Canada, in view of its bricks‑and‑mortar business in Ontario and its significant relationship with Chevron, the Court of Appeal found that an Ontario court has jurisdiction to adjudicate a recognition and enforcement action that also named it as a defendant.

Held: The appeal should be dismissed.

Canadian courts, like many others, have adopted a generous and liberal approach to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. To recognize and enforce such a judgment, the only prerequisite is that the foreign court had a real and substantial connection with the litigants or with the subject matter of the dispute, or that the traditional bases of jurisdiction were satisfied. There is no need to demonstrate a real and substantial connection between the dispute or the defendant and the enforcing forum. In actions to recognize and enforce foreign judgments within the limits of the province, it is the act of service on the basis of a foreign judgment that grants an Ontario court jurisdiction over the defendant. To conclude otherwise would undermine the important values of order and fairness that underlie all conflicts rules, and would be inconsistent with this Court’s statement that the doctrine of comity must be permitted to evolve concomitantly with international business relations, cross‑border transactions, and mobility.

This Court has never required there to be a real and substantial connection between the defendant or the action and the enforcing court for jurisdiction to exist in recognition and enforcement proceedings. An unambiguous statement by this Court that a real and substantial connection is not necessary will have the benefit of providing a fixed, clear and predictable rule, allowing parties to predict with reasonable confidence whether a court will assume jurisdiction in a case with an international or interprovincial aspect and will help to avert needless and wasteful jurisdictional inquiries.

Two considerations of principle support the view that the real and substantial connection test should not be extended to an enforcing court in an action for recognition and enforcement. First, the crucial difference between an action at first instance and an action for recognition and enforcement is that, in the latter case, the only purpose of the action is to allow a pre‑existing obligation to be fulfilled. As the enforcing court is not creating a new substantive obligation, there can be no concern that the parties are situated elsewhere, or that the facts underlying the dispute are properly addressed in another court. The only important element is the foreign judgment and the legal obligation it has created. Furthermore, enforcement is limited to measures that can be taken only within the confines of the jurisdiction and in accordance with its rules, and the enforcing court’s judgment has no coercive force outside its jurisdiction. Similarly, enforcement is limited to seizable assets found within its territory. As a result, any potential constitutional concerns relating to conflict of laws simply do not arise in recognition and enforcement cases: since the obligation created by a foreign judgment is universal, each jurisdiction has an equal interest in the obligation resulting from the foreign judgment, and no concern about territorial overreach could emerge.

Beyond this, it must be remembered that the notion of comity has consistently been found to underlie Canadian recognition and enforcement law. The need to acknowledge and show respect for the legal action of other states has consistently remained one of comity’s core components, and militates in favour of recognition and enforcement. Legitimate judicial acts should be respected and enforced, not sidetracked or ignored. The goal of modern conflicts systems rests on the principle of comity, which calls for the promotion of order and fairness, an attitude of respect and deference to other states, and a degree of stability and predictability in order to facilitate reciprocity. This is true of all areas of private international law, including the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In recognition and enforcement proceedings, order and fairness are protected by ensuring that a real and substantial connection existed between the foreign court and the underlying dispute. If such a connection did not exist, or if the defendant was not present in or attorn to the foreign jurisdiction, the resulting judgment will not be recognized and enforced in Canada. No unfairness results to judgment debtors from having to defend against recognition and enforcement proceedings — through their own behaviour and legal noncompliance, they have made themselves the subject of outstanding obligations, so they may be called upon to answer for their debts in various jurisdictions. They are also provided with the opportunity to convince the enforcing court that there is another reason why recognition and enforcement should not be granted. Requiring a defendant to be present or to have assets in the enforcing jurisdiction would only undermine order and fairness: presence will frequently be absent given the very nature of the proceeding at issue, and requiring assets in the enforcing jurisdiction when recognition and enforcement proceedings are instituted would risk depriving creditors of access to funds that might eventually enter the jurisdiction. In today’s globalized world and electronic age, to require that a judgment creditor wait until the foreign debtor is present or has assets in the province before a court can find that it has jurisdiction in recognition and enforcement proceedings would be to turn a blind eye to current economic reality.

Finding that there is no requirement of a real and substantial connection between the defendant or the action and the enforcing court in an action for recognition and enforcement is also supported by the choices made by the Ontario legislature, all other common law provinces and territories, Quebec, other international common law jurisdictions and most Canadian conflict of laws scholars.

In this case, jurisdiction is established with respect to Chevron. It attorned to the jurisdiction of the Ecuadorian courts, it was served ex juris at its head office, and the amended statement of claim alleged that it was a foreign debtor pursuant to a judgment of an Ecuadorian court. While this judgment has since been varied by a higher court, this occurred after the amended statement of claim had been filed; even if the total amount owed was reduced, the judgment remains largely intact. The plaintiffs have sufficiently pleaded the Ontario courts’ jurisdiction over Chevron.

 The question of whether jurisdiction exists over Chevron Canada should begin and end with traditional, presence‑based jurisdiction. Where jurisdiction stems from the defendant’s presence in the jurisdiction, there is no need to consider whether a real and substantial connection exists. To establish traditional, presence‑based jurisdiction over an out‑of‑province corporate defendant, it must be shown that the defendant was carrying on business in the forum at the time of the action. This is a question of fact: the court must inquire into whether the company has some direct or indirect presence in the state asserting jurisdiction, accompanied by a degree of business activity which is sustained for a period of time. Here, the motion judge’s factual findings have not been contested. They are sufficient to establish presence‑based jurisdiction. Chevron Canada has a physical office in Ontario, where it was served. Its business activities at this office are sustained; it has representatives who provide services to customers in the province. Canadian courts have found that jurisdiction exists in such circumstances. The motion judge’s analysis was correct, and the Ontario Court of Appeal had no need to go beyond these considerations to find jurisdiction.

The establishment of jurisdiction does not mean that the plaintiffs will necessarily succeed in having the Ecuadorian judgment recognized and enforced. A finding of jurisdiction does nothing more than afford the plaintiffs the opportunity to seek recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment. Once past the jurisdictional stage, Chevron and Chevron Canada can use the available procedural tools to try to dispose of the plaintiffs’ allegations. This possibility is foreign to and remote from the questions that must be resolved on this appeal. Further, the conclusion that the Ontario courts have jurisdiction in this case should not be understood to prejudice future arguments with respect to the distinct corporate personalities of Chevron and Chevron Canada or whether Chevron Canada’s shares or assets will be available to satisfy Chevron’s debt.

The judgment of the Court was delivered by

Gascon J. —

  1. Overview

[1]                              In a world in which businesses, assets, and people cross borders with ease, courts are increasingly called upon to recognize and enforce judgments from other jurisdictions.  Sometimes, successful recognition and enforcement in another forum is the only means by which a foreign judgment creditor can obtain its due.  Normally, a judgment creditor will choose to commence recognition and enforcement proceedings in a forum where the judgment debtor has assets.  In this case, however, the Court is asked to determine whether the Ontario courts have jurisdiction to recognize and enforce an Ecuadorian judgment where the foreign judgment debtor, Chevron Corporation (“Chevron”), claims to have no connection with the province, whether through assets or otherwise.  The Court is also asked to determine whether the Ontario courts have jurisdiction over a Canadian subsidiary of Chevron, Chevron Canada Limited (“Chevron Canada”), a stranger to the foreign judgment for which recognition and enforcement is being sought.

[2]                              The courts below found that jurisdiction existed over Chevron.  They held that the only connection that must be proven for recognition and enforcement to proceed is one between the foreign court and the original action on the merits; there is no preliminary need to prove a connection with Ontario for jurisdiction to exist in recognition and enforcement proceedings.  They also found there to be an independent jurisdictional basis for proceeding against Chevron Canada due to the place of business it operates in the province, and at which it had been duly served.

[3]                              I agree with the outcomes reached by the courts below with respect to both Chevron and Chevron Canada and I would dismiss the appeal.  In an action to recognize and enforce a foreign judgment where the foreign court validly assumed jurisdiction, there is no need to prove that a real and substantial connection exists between the enforcing forum and either the judgment debtor or the dispute.  It makes little sense to compel such a connection when, owing to the nature of the action itself, it will frequently be lacking. Nor is it necessary, in order for the action to proceed, that the foreign debtor contemporaneously possess assets in the enforcing forum.  Jurisdiction to recognize and enforce a foreign judgment within Ontario exists by virtue of the debtor being served on the basis of the outstanding debt resulting from the judgment.  This is the case for Chevron.  Jurisdiction also exists here with respect to Chevron Canada because it was validly served at a place of business it operates in the province.  On the traditional jurisdictional grounds, this is sufficient to find jurisdiction. [Emphasis added]

News Alert: Supreme Court dismisses Chevron appeal in Ecuador case by The Canadian Press, September 4, 2015, Ottawa Citizen

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Ecuadorian villagers have the right to use an Ontario court to seek billions in environmental damages from oil giant Chevron.

The 7-0 ruling dismisses an appeal by Chevron to block the suit in Ontario.

But the court makes no finding on the merits of the case that has played out in courtrooms across the Western Hemisphere. [Emphasis added]

Supreme Court of Canada rules Ecuador villagers can go ahead with US$9.5-billion legal case against Chevron by Drew Hasselback, September 4, 2015, Financial Post

A group of Ecuadoran villagers can proceed with a legal claim that asks an Ontario court to help them collect on a US$9.5-billion judgment they obtained in Ecuador against global oil giant Chevron Corp., the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, issued Friday, upholds a similar finding reached by the Ontario Court of Appeal in December 2013.

The court found simple reasons to confirm Ontario’s jurisdiction to hear the Ecuadoran villagers’ enforcement case. It said the original lawsuit, a claim for environmental damages in the Amazon jungle, was properly brought in Ecuador. And it said the Ecuadoran plaintiffs had every right to bring the claim against Chevron, since it was able to serve notice of the enforcement claim at the company’s office in Mississauga, Ont.

“Traditional, presence-based jurisdiction is satisfied,” Justice Clement Gascon wrote in the unanimous, seven-judge ruling.

The court starkly rejected Chevron’s arguments that it would be improper to hear the case in Ontario because the company has few assets there.

“In today’s globalized world and electronic age, to require that a judgment creditor wait until the foreign debtor is present or has assets in the province before a court can find that it has jurisdiction in recognition and enforcement proceedings would be to turn a blind eye to current economic reality, Justice Gascon wrote.

The decision does not translate into an instant payday for the Ecuadoran villagers. The ruling merely casts aside a technical challenge [and to intentionally delay justice and add costs and frustration?] Chevron had hoped would block villagers’ attempts to enforce the Ecuadoran judgment debt in a Canadian court. The case now returns to an Ontario judge, who will determine whether the Ecuadoran judgment can be properly recognized and enforced in Canada.

“A finding of jurisdiction does nothing more than afford the plaintiffs the opportunity to seek recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment,” the judge wrote.

That may not be easy. A U.S. federal judge ruled in March 2014 that the Ecuadoran judgment was the product of extensive fraud and corruption, a point Chevron is bound to make in the Ontario courts as the case progresses.

The Supreme Court mentioned that U.S. federal court ruling in its judgment, but made no further comment in its Friday ruling. “That decision and the underlying allegations of fraud are not before this court.”

The Ecuadoran case has been before courts for decades. The villagers say Texaco Inc., a company that was bought by Chevron in 1993, polluted some 1,500 square kilometres of land and water in the Ecuadoran Amazon between 1972 and 1990.

Villagers first tried to sue the company in U.S. federal court, but in 1993 Chevron succeeded in convincing a U.S. judge that Ecuador would be the more appropriate place to fight the claim.

After the case finally made its way back to Ecuador, the trial took eight years. In February 2011, Judge Nicolas Zambrano Lozada of the Sucumbios Provincial Court of Justice in Ecuador found Chevron responsible for the pollution and ordered the company pay damages of US$18.2 billion. An Ecuadoran appellate court later reduced the award to US$9.5 billion.

The plaintiffs have since launched enforcement actions in several jurisdictions, including Canada. The judgment was filed in Ontario in 2012. Chevron fought the enforcement on the grounds it has few assets in Ontario, and that its Canadian subsidiary has no connection to the Ecuador case. A judge agreed in May 2013, but the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned that ruling in December 2013.

That set the stage for the Supreme Court case. In Friday’s ruling, the court flatly rejected Chevron’s arguments. “[T]he approach favoured by Chevron is sound neither in law nor in policy,” Justice Gascon wrote.

Canadian courts are often asked to apply the so-called “real and substantial connection” test before hearing lawsuits over incidents that took place in foreign jurisdictions. But the Supreme Court found that this test refers only to lawsuits that are starting from scratch, not the enforcement of judgments thaat were properly heard abroad.

The proper test for the “recognition and enforcement” of a foreign judgment is limited to whether it made sense for the original lawsuit to be brought in the foreign jurisdiction. In this case, since the pollution took place in Ecuador, there was little dispute on that front.

The legal fireworks are far from over. The Ecuadoran villagers must now convince an Ontario judge that the Ecuador ruling is sound. That won’t be easy. Chevron’s top in-house lawyer once vowed the company will fight the Ecuadoran case “until Hell freezes over, and then fight it out on the ice.”

This story will be updated. [Emphasis added]

Ecuadorians can sue Chevron in Canada, Supreme Court rules by Sean Fine, September 4, 2015, The Globe and Mail

Ecuadorian villagers can sue Chevron and its Canadian subsidiary in an Ontario court to enforce a $9.5-billion (U.S.) judgment from Ecuador, the Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The ruling has major implications for Canadian multinational companies whose business activities raise environmental or human rights concerns around the globe. The ruling weakens the so-called “corporate veil” that has shielded subsidiaries from responsibility for the actions of their corporate parents.

“In a world in which businesses, assets, and people cross borders with ease, courts are increasingly called upon to recognize and enforce judgments from other jurisdictions,” Justice Clément Gascon wrote in a 7–0 ruling. “Sometimes, successful recognition and enforcement in another forum is the only means by which a foreign judgment creditor can obtain its due.”

A Chevron company spokesman once said that it would fight this case to the bitter end: “We’re going to fight this until hell freezes over. And then we’ll fight it out on the ice.”

That looks like what is about to happen. [“Is?” It has been happening for years and after too many yearse of legal skating around from place to place by Chevron’s bullying and refusal to respect the legal rulings where the  harms took place]

An intervenor group that provides legal support abroad to communities affected by Canadian resource companies says these communities can be exposed to a range of abuses, such as “war crimes, torture, and environmental degradation.”

“The outcome of this appeal has the potential to have a profound impact on the ability of such communities to seek redress,” the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project told the Supreme Court in a written brief.

The lawsuit was brought by 47 indigenous villagers over harm to their lands and way of life from pollution between 1972 and 1990, allegedly caused by Texaco (while later merged with Chevron, a U.S. company). An Ecuador trial court awarded $18-billion (U.S.), later reduced to $9.5-billion on appeal.

Chevron holds no assets in Ecuador so the judgment could not be enforced in that country. Chevron contends that the trial judgment was obtained through fraud and bribery, and has filed a counter-suit in the U.S.

The villagers have sued in Argentina, Brazil and Canada to enforce the judgment. An Ontario trial judge called the suit an academic exercise because Chevron Corp. has no assets in Canada, but the Ontario Court of Appeal said in a 3–0 ruling that the enforcement attempt should be allowed to proceed. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Chevron reported 3.6 magnitude event; Shut down by AER. Is the AER’s Frac Quake Stop Light System Irrelevant? Another 4.4 Magnitude Earthquake at Fox Creek

California farmers rely on Chevron’s wastewater to irrigate. Some refuse: “I would rather let my trees die” than use Chevron’s water. Compare to the Chevron Tapes that allegedly show the company covering up contamination in Ecuador

California now says 2,500 wells dumping frac waste into protected aquifers, up from 532 in February. Regulators order oil drillers including Chevron Corp. and Linn Energy LLC to halt operations at 12 injection wells (two were issued cease and desist orders) because they may taint groundwater suitable for drinking and irrigation

Supreme Court of Canada to hear Chevron v. Yaiguaje on December 11; Why did Canadian Bar Association try to help Chevron and hire Blakes Cassels & Graydon LLP (“acts for Chevron in other matters”) without member consensus?

IHRP Granted Leave to Intervene before Supreme Court in Chevron v. Yaiguaje
Intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada in Yaiguaje v Chevron Corporation

Partner Organization: MiningWatch Canada, Canadian Centre for International Justice

Counsel: Murray Klippenstein and Cory Wanless (Klippensteins LLP); Renu Mandhane (IHRP)

The IHRP, MiningWatch, and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), have been granted leave to intervene before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Yaiguaje v Chevron Corporation case. The IHRP will be represented by Renu Mandhane (Director of the IHRP), along with two UofT alumni’ Murray Klippenstein and Cory Wanless.

The Lago Agrio litigation is a decades-long struggle between Chevron and Amazonian villagers from Ecuador who are seeking compensation for the extensive pollution of the Amazon Rainforest between 1972 and 1990. In February 2011, after years of litigation in Ecuador, an Ecuadorian court finds Chevron liable in the amount of US$18 billion – the largest environmental damage award in history.  The award is subsequently reduced to $9.51 billion on appeal. This award is now final for the purposes of Ecuadorian law.

Yaiguaje v Chevron Corporation is an attempt to get a Canadian court to enforce the $9.51 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron in Canada.  If successful, this would mean that a Canadian court would order Chevron and its Canadian subsidiaries to pay the $9.51 billion that is owed to the plaintiffs from the Canadian-based assets of Chevron and its subsidiaries.

At this juncture, the Supreme Court is only considering preliminary issues regarding whether plaintiffs are able to attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment in Canada at all.  Notably, the Supreme Court will not, at this stage, determine whether the Ecuadorian judgment will be enforced in Canada – that is a question for another day.

The Supreme Court will determine two key issues.  Both have important implications for other individuals and communities who have suffered human rights and environmental harms caused by transnational corporations.

Do Canadian courts have jurisdiction to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment?

Is it possible for the plaintiffs to recover the money that is owed to them from Chevron’s Canadian-based subsidiaries?

The primary purpose of a joint intervention would be a) to inform the Supreme Court about recent developments in international human rights law, and b) to use these developments in international human rights law to urge the Supreme Court to interpret Canadian common law in a manner that removes legal barriers that act to prevent victims of abuses by transnational corporations from attaining reparations or damages through the judicial process. [Emphasis added]

Chevron’s Lithuania Pullout: Legislation still not lax enough for frac giant, 3 or 4 years tax-free incentive also not enough

Chevron appears to be taking Free Speech to court: suing cartoonist, Mark Fiore, for must watch cartoon about Chevron losing the 9.5 Billion dollar Ecuador pollution lawsuit

Romanian peasants’ revolt against hydraulic fracturing, Chevron tries to bribe with yoghurt

The Chevron Frac Guarantee: Our well won’t explode…or your pizza is free!

BP, Chevron Accused Of Illegally Dumping Toxic Radioactive Drilling Waste Into Louisiana Water

Unanimous Ontario Court of Appeal decision: Ecuadoreans can seek Chevron damages in Canada and Chevron’s two Canadian subsidiaries ordered to pay $100,000 in costs

Chevron halts Romania shale work after using riot police to harm concerned citizens in Romania, RCMP use riot police against concerned Canadians, Mi’kmaq in New Brunswick refuse to back down, defy another court injunction

Romanian farmers choose subsistence over shale gas

Romania villagers and farmers block Chevron test drilling

Constitutional protection, Judge gives way to request on Chevron frac deal in Argentina

Chevron Sues Its Own Shareholders In Ecuador Compensation Battle

Chevron Workers Plead To Be Evacuated Before Deadly Blast

Chevron’s Ecuador Cancer Problem: 10,000 People at Risk of Contracting Disease in Coming Decades, Says Expert, Oil Giant Faces Up to $69 Billion in Liability for Potential Cancer Deaths

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