Brazilian Dam Claimants to Take BHP Class Action to English Court of Appeal
Lawyers for about 200,000 Brazilian claimants, whose multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Anglo-Australian miner BHP over a 2015 dam collapse was struck down last November, said on Tuesday they will petition the English Court of Appeal to review the case.
“This is a challenging case for the courts, but we are optimistic that we can establish jurisdiction in England and see justice done for our clients,” said Tom Goodhead, managing partner at PGMBM, which is representing the claimants.
“In the event of any adverse costs ruling, these would be covered by the funders and insurers of the case, not the victims of the disaster. In no circumstances would we allow our clients to incur the costs,” he said.
He also said any costs would be appealed as part of the appeal process.
Claimants are suing the mining giant and for 5 billion pounds ($6.82 billion) in damages after the Fundao tailings dam collapsed in 2015, killing 19 residents in Minas Gerais and causing Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
BHP and Vale are the parent companies of the dam operator Samarco.
A High Court judge in Manchester refused on Friday to allow the claimants to appeal against his November ruling, saying he remained convinced the claim was not merely challenging but “irredeemably unmanageable if allowed to proceed further in this jurisdiction.”
The judge ordered the claimants to pay 8 million pounds in interim costs to BHP by 1600 GMT on Feb. 12.
The claimants have 21 days from Friday’s ruling to apply for permission to appeal their case at the Court of Appeal.
BHP declined to comment on Friday’s decision or on the case being taken to the Court of Appeal.
($1 = 0.7329 pounds) (Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Aurora Ellis)
Photo: In this Nov. 8, 2015, file photo, rescue workers search for victims at the site where the town of Bento Rodrigues stood, after two dams burst on Thursday, Nov. 5, in Minas Gerais state, Brazil. Photo credit: AP Photo/Felipe Dana.