Canadian Supreme Court Rules Against Chevron and in Favor of Ecuadorians
4 September 2015 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
The law has finally caught up with Chevron. Today's unanimous decision from the Supreme Court of Canada opens the door for Ecuadorian indigenous and farmer communities to enforce their $9.5 billion USD verdict against Chevron and is a major victory for human rights and corporate accountability.
Chevron's deliberate dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water and 17 million gallons of crude into the Ecuadorian Amazon created a massive health crisis and remains one of the worst oil-related environmental crimes in history. After being found guilty of its drill and dump tactics in Ecuador, Chevron has been on the run, spending billions on retaliatory legal attacks seeking to delay justice rather than fulfilling its legal obligations to carry out a full-scale environmental clean-up and provide potable water and health care to the communities it poisoned.
Chevron's $15 billion USD in Canadian assets are more than enough to satisfy the verdict, and the Canadian court's decision to allow the Ecuadorian rainforest communities to pursue action to collect their verdict is a significant step towards justice long denied. The verdict should be a major wake-up call to Chevron shareholders and senior management that despite spending billions to make this issue go away, the company faces major risk to its assets and brand in Canada and beyond. Rather than spend hundreds of millions more on legal fees in Canada to delay justice further, it's time for Chevron to finally do the right thing.
From Humberto Piaguaje, Executive Coordinator of UDAPT (the Union of Persons Affected by Texaco/Chevron, or the Union de Afectados y Afectadas por las Operaciones Petroleras de Texaco/Chevron), the local organization representing the communities suing Chevron:
"This decision is the beginning of the end of Chevron's abusive and obstructionist litigation strategy to avoid paying for the clean-up of the company's extensive toxic contamination of our ancestral lands in Ecuador. Chevron will now be forced to take the Ecuadorian judgment like any other, something it has desperately tried to avoid since our enforcement action was filed in Canada three years ago. We are confident that once Canadian courts review the fundamental fairness and strength of the judgment, it will be respected and Chevron will be forced to turn over any and all assets necessary to pay the amount ordered by the Ecuadorian court. When that happens, a measure of relief can finally come to thousands of innocent people who have suffered decades of environmental abuse at the hands of the company.
From Aaron Marr Page, a U.S.-based international lawyer who has worked with UDAPT and the communities suing Chevron for over a decade:
"This decision is a vindication of the rule of law. It is far past time for that the system of recognition of judgments between friendly nations, a system that commercial interests have relied on for over a century, be put to use to give impoverished human rights victims the same chance to collect on a judgment even against a powerful multinational corporation. While some legal hurdles remain, the merits of the environmental justice rendered by Ecuador's courts are settled and will be respected. It is clearer than ever that Chevron's long run from justice is coming to an end."