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Mariana victims win appeal and may sue BHP in UK - Gerais

Mariana victims win appeal and may sue BHP in UK – Gerais

A military police helicopter flies over Bento Rodríguez, a Mariana village devastated by the wreckage. (Photo: Antonio Cruz/Agenzia Brasil)
A UK court is considering whether victims of the Fundo dam failure in the Marianas could sue mining giant BHP Billiton in a British court. The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) in London ruled this Friday (07/08) that all the points requested by the Brazilian lawyers are covered and can go to trial. There were fears that only the municipalities that were part of the action would have the right to sue the British and Australian capital firm, which jointly controls Samarco with Vale, the mining company that operated the broken dam in Brazil.

In 2018, English and Brazilian lawyers from the PGMBM office filed an international lawsuit against mining giant BHP Billiton demanding £5 billion (more than R$ 32 billion) in damages. November 5, 2015.

The statement Status of mines It has followed its development since 2018, when it began production in Mariana, with two rounds of pre-procedure trials in Manchester and London, in 2020 and 2022.

The acceptance in UK courts has renewed hope for around 200,000 victims represented by Anglo-Brazilian law firm PGMBM who have not yet been awarded compensation in Brazil for the 2015 tragedy.

After the dam broke, 19 people died, 500,000 were injured and 40 million cubic meters of iron ore reached the Atlantic Ocean between the Río dos Hydrographic Basin, Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo.

Mariana, five municipalities, six religious institutions and 25 municipalities of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, including 530 institutions of different sizes, joined the action.

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BHP Billiton can appeal for a Supreme Court review within 28 days, but an appeal at this level will normally be accepted if it concerns a matter considered to be of public importance.

In the first instance, a judge at the Manchester Court of Civil Justice held that it was an abuse of jurisdiction to judge BHP at the same time as the proceedings in Brazil. PGMBM’s lawyers say that justice has not been served adequately in Brazil.

In the first judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the first instance. But a contingency of the civil law was given to the victims to avoid great injustices, and a fresh appeal was made because of it.

Affected, displaced people from Pento Rodriguez protested in streets covered with tails in the ruins of a village affected by the collapse of a Nithi dam.
Affected and displaced people from Pento Rodriguez joined the protest. Not resettled till date (Photo: Tlio Santos/EM/DAPress)

Throughout the process, BHP’s lawyers described the company’s efforts to redress victims through Fundao Renova, pointing out that any Brazilians would get justice and that a case in the UK would duplicate proceedings already underway in Brazil.

On the other hand, advocates for the victims, the international law firm PGMPM, argued that more than 6 years after the breakup, there is no reparations process in Brazil that includes the victims and allows for full compensation. In their view, because BHP is a British company, its customers can sue in England.

Justice abroad

Victims’ Justice in the United Kingdom

November 5, 2015

» A Fundo dam operated by mining company Samarco in the Marianas ruptures, releasing 40 million cubic meters of iron ore seams. An estimated 700,000 people were affected in the Rio Dos Basin. Nineteen people died after the wreck, and the body of one of the victims has never been recovered.

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September 21, 2018

» Risking a time limit for damages actions three years after the disaster, English law firm SPG Law has now announced that PGMBM will file a case in a UK court against Samarco’s parent company, BHP Billiton SPL. Well. At the time it was valued at £5 billion.

October 3, 2018

» Agreement signed between the Ministry of Public Works, Samarco and its parent companies (except BHP, Vale) provided for interruption of statutory statute of limitations.

November 2, 2018

» PGMBM office files compensation claims against BHP Billiton SPL in UK courts

November 16, 2018

» The Renova Foundation is pressuring municipalities and affected populations to abstain from international action as a condition of receiving agreed compensation. Lawyers from the International Office react

March 13, 2020

» PGMBM provides BHP with an extensive set of documents arguing that the client’s intention to sue in the UK courts is legitimate. Contains legal opinions and testimony from victims and Brazilian lawyers who have worked in Brazil on behalf of victims of the Fundo dam failure.

From July 22 to 31, 2020

» Lawyers for the victims and BHP Billiton are taking the international case to the Civil Justice Center in Manchester, where Judge Sir Mark Turner will rule on whether UK courts can sue for damages.

November 9, 2020

» Judge Sir Mark Turner has ruled that the victims’ claim for damages against Anglo-Australian company BMP Billiton is invalid. The victims’ lawyers appealed

March 23, 2021

» Court of Appeal in London rejects appeal and dismisses case. The lawyers point out that the decision was taken without regard to the arguments presented. Judicial recovery of Renova and Samarco

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May 04, 2021

» A judge at the Court of Appeal in London considers himself suspicious and transfers the petition to the vice-president of the company, who reopens the analysis.

July 27, 2021

» The Court of Appeal at the Crown Court in London reopens the international process, ruling that the victims’ appeal should be re-heard

October 14, 2021

» Lawyers for the victims add new evidence and update the situation of the victims for the hearing at the Court of Appeal in London

Between 4th and 8th April 2022

» Judges at the Court of Appeal heard arguments from victims of BHP and accepting the action in the UK.

July 8, 2022

» The Court of Appeal in London has ruled that it can hear all issues brought by victims in the UK case against BHP Billiton. The company can try to appeal