CBA drops Chevron intervention

The Canadian Bar Association is withdrawing its intervention in the Chevron matter just a day before the deadline to submit its factum amid amounting pressure from the legal profession.

“We confirm that the CBA has decided to withdraw its intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada in Chevron Corporation et al v. Yaiguaje, et al,” the CBA said in a statement today.

“The CBA Intervention Policy requires the legislation and law reform committee to sanction the factum before it can be filed with the court. In this case, the L&LR Committee concluded that while the factum was well-drafted and of a high standard of quality, it did not meet the specific requirements of the Intervention policy.

“The CBA will respect the committee’s opinion and the intervention will be withdrawn. The CBA is thankful for the diligence, conscientiousness and professionalism of its counsel and for the generosity of Blakes in agreeing to undertake this file for the CBA. We look forward to working with them again in the future.”

According to several sources, the legislation and law reform committee had recommended against involvment in the case before the CBA decided to intervene in the matter.

The CBA’s decision to get involved in the multinational oil company’s battle against a group of indigenous people in Ecuador stirred up a lot of controversy among members of the bar, resulting in protests and resignations from the organization.

“This is the result we hoped for,” said David McRobert, one of the 120 lawyers across Canada who were signatories of an open letter that urged the CBA not to go ahead with its intervention. “The whole intervention had a bad smell about it.”

The Ecuadorian claimants had obtained judgment for $9.5 billion in a local court against Chevron and they’re now seeking to enforce that judgment against the company’s assets in Ontario.

The CBA had said it would not be supporting either party in the matter but would speak to “foundational corporate law principles” such as the corporate veil. But many members of the association said they do not stand behind those principles and that powerful corporations need to be more accountable.

Some executive members of the CBA’s aboriginal law section resigned over the CBA’s decision to intervene and soon, organizations like the Law Union of Ontario urged their members to quit the CBA as well.

Last week, law student organized a protest against the CBA’s decision to intervene. Demonstrators carried signs that read, “This is why people hate lawyers” and “Lawyers, show Chevron that your integrity is not for sale.”

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