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Court of Appeal reopens £5bn dam collapse case against BHP

Tue 27 July 2021 13:58 | A A A

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(Sharecast News) - The Court of Appeal in London is reversing its decision over the £5bn Fundao dam collapse lawsuit against BHP, it was revealed on Tuesday, meaning 200,000 claimants would now be able to appeal a lower court's November decision to throw out the case.

Judges in the court had previously agreed with the lower court, which decided that the action was an abuse of process, as the group was able to make its claim in Brazil.

But according to City AM, three judges ruled on Tuesday that the appeal had a "real prospect of success", even though they "fully understand the considerations that led the judge to his conclusion that the claim should be struck out".

The 2015 collapse of the dam, which was operated by BHP's local subsidiary Samarco, killed 19 people and flooded local villages and rivers with mining waste.

PGMBM partner Tom Goodhead, who is bringing the case, cited recent precedents as encouraging, with the Supreme Court ruling in 2019 that Vedanta did have a case to answer in England to Zambian people affected by pollution, and courts also confirming that Nigerian communities affected by Shell's operations could sue the oil giant under English law.

BHP's response, however, was that the proceedings "do not belong" in the UK.

"Issues brought by the claimants are already covered by the work of the Renova Foundation, by existing decisions of the Brazilian courts or are the subject of ongoing legal proceedings in Brazil," the company said.

"BHP will not be distracted from our commitment to do the right thing for the victims of the Fundao dam failure."

The company noted that it had paid out BRR 4bn (£557.64m) in compensation to those affected by the dam collapse thus far.

At 1340 BST, shares in BHP Group were down 1.44% in London, at 2,295p.

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