Friday, 19 March 2010

Lawyers appeal Chevron's arbitration move

Chevron latest: More wriggling. Quelle surprise!

Lawyers representing thousands of indigenous people from the Ecuadorian Amazon who are suing Chevron for the dumping of toxic waste are to appeal a recent decision by a New York court to grant Chevron permission to international arbitration.

The American oil giant hope to prove they have been denied due process by the Ecuadorian judiciary which is expected to force them to stump up $27.3 billion in damages. This comes after having originally lavished praise on Ecuador's judicial system in order to have the lawsuit moved there from an American court.

Lack of due process presumably refers to prosecution of and sanctions against two of Chevron's lawyers, one of whom tried delaying the outcome of the trial by regularly re-filing legal motions that had already been denied.

Arbitration has been brought about by way of a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between Ecuador and the United States. According to the Opinio Juris blog, an arbitration ruling in Chevron's favour - despite not affecting the actual lawsuit in Ecuador - could give the company good ground to contest the enforcement of any judgement in the US. The multi-billion dollar bill could wipe up to a fifth off the market value of Chevron.

The latest death throe has prompted cries of "forum shopping" from campaigners, who also point out that indigenous peoples would be excluded from participating in arbitration thousands of miles away.

"Chevron's plan to try to resolve the legal claims of thousands of rainforest residents in a secret arbitration is a massive denial of due process," said Jonathon Abady, a representative of the plaintiffs. "After more than 17 years of litigation fraught with delay caused largely by Chevron itself, these individuals deserve to have their claims resolved in the forum that Chevron chose after relying for years on those promises.

"Chevron, because it faces an adverse judgment, is now looking for yet another forum to drag out this process and make good on its promise of a lifetime of litigation for the communities."

According to the Amazon Defense Coalition, campaigners hope to appeal on the grounds that Chevron are violating promises made to the US court when the suit was moved to Ecuador, including "a promise by Chevron to abide by jurisdiction in Ecuador and pay any judgment subject to certain enforcement provisions that do not include an international arbitration".

The Amazon peoples have been locked in a legal battle with Chevron for over fifteen years, who they hold responsible for the lives and ecology destroyed as a result of dumping by Texaco, a company Chevron took control of in 2001.


  1. There is always been fair in life. But someone can't do anything about this at all. We just hope that everything will work out for the best.

  2. There will always be a bad side on everything, however good always conquers it all. Lawyers will always find a way to know the truth that is relevant and precise.