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The Court of Appeal unanimously allows the claimants’ appeal in Município de Mariana and others v BHP

8th July 2022

One of the largest ever group actions will now be allowed to proceed in England, following the Court of Appeal’s unanimous judgment [2022] EWCA Civ 951 handed down on 8 July 2022.

The catastrophic collapse of the Fundão Dam in November 2015 has been described as the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history. The claimants seek to establish BHP’s liability for the collapse.

In November 2020, BHP succeeded in striking out the claims in the High Court, on the basis that the case would be ‘unmanageable’

Following 5-day hearing in April 2022, the Court of Appeal (Underhill VP, Popplewell and Carr LJJ) unanimously allowed the claimants’ appeal. The Court of Appeal also accepted the claimants’ submissions and evidence in respect of various jurisdictions challenges advanced by BHP under Article 34 of the Brussels Recast Regulation and at common law.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment includes important observations as to the conduct of large-scale group litigation in this jurisdiction and the ‘constitutional right’ of unhindered access to justice.

Russell Hopkins together with Alain Choo-Choy (One Essex Court), Nicholas Harrison and Jon McDonagh (both of Serle Court) acted for the claimants on their appeal, instructed by PGMBM.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment is available here.

For some of the related press coverage, see:

The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times

 





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Russell Hopkins

Russell Hopkins
Year of Call: 2018