IHRP Granted Leave to Intervene before Supreme Court in Chevron v. Yaiguaje

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada in Yaiguaje v Chevron Corporation

Partner OrganizationMiningWatch CanadaCanadian 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. 

  1. Do Canadian courts have jurisdiction to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment?

  2. 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.

Read the IHRP/CCIJ/MiningWatch record on the motion for leave to intervene.