UK Supreme Court clarifies issues on parent company liability in Lungowe v Vedanta

Summary This landmark judgment from the UK Supreme Court means that the claim brought by 1,826 Zambian villagers against UK-based Vedanta and its Zambian subsidiary KCM can proceed to a trial of the substantive issues in the English courts. One of the issues that now falls to be examined is the controversial question of whether a parent company can be liable for the operations of its subsidiary, in the English courts. We set out below the background to the case, a summary of the Supreme Court’s reasoning and an explanation of what this decision means for UK companies with international operations. Background Residents of the Zambian city of Chingola brought proceedings in the English courts against Vedanta Resources Plc (Vedanta), a UK incorporated parent company, and Konkola Copper Mines Plc (KCM), its Zambian subsidiary, claiming that waste discharged from the Nchanga copper mine – owned and operated by KCM – had polluted the local waterways, causing…

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