The liability of a UK parent company has been a high profile topic in recent cases. Case law in recent years has shown a trend towards parties bringing claims against UK-domiciled parent companies for the acts or omissions of their overseas subsidiaries.
In this article, Lois Horne and Lauren Roberts consider the recent significant judgement handed down from the Supreme Court in Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc v Lungowe and Ors, finding an arguable case that the UK parent could be liable for the operations of its overseas subsidiary.
This claim was brought by 1,826 Zambian villagers against Vedanta Resources Plc and its Zambian subsidiary, KCM, for the discharge of toxic matter from a mine operated by KCM into waterways used for drinking and irrigation. The judgement examined how Vedanta was involved in the management of KCM.
Lord Briggs stated (in the unanimous judgment) that “I regard the published materials in which Vedanta may fairly be said to have asserted its own assumption of responsibility for the maintenance of proper standards of environmental control over the activities of its subsidiaries, and in particular the operations at the Mine, and not merely to have laid down but also implemented those standards by training, monitoring and enforcement, as sufficient on their own to show that it is well arguable that a sufficient level of intervention by Vedanta in the conduct of operations at the Mine may be demonstrable at trial…”