Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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Bringing responsibility home: What next for parent company liability?

By Russell Hopkins

Introduction

The dust is settling on the UK Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Lungowe v Vedanta. In a judgment laced with metaphors, Lord Briggs depicts the English court as having “one hand tied behind its back” since the European Court of Justice held in Owusu v Jackson that proceedings against a UK-domiciled defendant could not be stayed on forum non conveniens grounds. His Lordship laments that the court’s other hand has been “effectively paralysed” by prior cases wrongly treating the risk of irreconcilable foreign judgments as a “trump card” to be deployed by claimants in favour of English jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the court is left “beating its head against a brick wall” by repeated failures to keep jurisdictional litigation within proportionate bounds. This is vivid imagery woven into a thorough analysis of whether England really ought to be the place to litigate environmental harm from a Zambian mine. Continue reading