Top court to hear Chevron in $9.1-billion Ecuador lawsuit

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed on Thursday to hear an appeal by Chevron Corp of a lower-court decision that said Ecuadorean villagers could pursue in Ontario their $9.51-billion lawsuit for pollution in the Amazon jungle.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in December that Ontario was a proper jurisdiction for the Ecuadorean plaintiffs to press Chevron to pay up, and Chevron wants the Supreme Court of Canada to say the Ontario courts have no jurisdiction.

In the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Yaiguaje v. Chevron Corp., Justice James McPherson wrote: “Even before the Ecuadorian judgment was released, Chevron, speaking through a spokesman, stated that Chevron intended to contest the judgment if Chevron lost.  He said: ‘We’re going to fight this until hell freezes over.  And then we’ll fight it out on the ice.’

“Chevron’s wish is granted.  After all these years, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs deserve to have the recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment heard on the merits in an appropriate jurisdiction.  At this juncture, Ontario is that jurisdiction.”

The SCC’s granting of leave to appeal was the latest twist in a two-decade conflict between Chevron and residents of Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region in the Amazon jungle, which want the Ontario courts to force Chevron to pay up the judgment awarded to them in an Ecuadorean court in 2011. The California-based company no longer has any assets in Ecuador.

A U.S. judge issued a scathing decision on March 4 that found that American lawyer Stephen Donziger had used corrupt means to help villagers win the judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. It barred Donziger and the villagers from enforcing the Ecuadorean judgment in the United States.

The Ecuadoreans say Chevron has $15 billion of assets in Canada. The Ontario Court of Appeal decision in December overturned a ruling six months earlier by Ontario Superior Court Justice David Brown, who had granted Chevron a stay in the proceedings on the basis that the case had little hope of success and that Chevron Canada’s assets were not directly owned by Chevron Corp.

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE weekly newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered every two weeks, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please complete the form below to receive the weekly Canadian Legal Newswire and/or the Canadian Inhouse Legal Newswire.

Recent articles & video

Canadian Judicial Council seeks leave to SCC in Girouard case

B.C. animal law ruling means death for dangerous dogs

Immigration lawyers skeptical about consultant regulation

B.C. Court of Appeal clarifies when environmental assessments lapse

Corporate Counsel 2019 – survey underway

Becoming a techno-lawyer can you set you apart

Most Read Articles

Immigration lawyers skeptical about consultant regulation

Becoming a techno-lawyer can you set you apart

B.C. animal law ruling means death for dangerous dogs

Disclosure obligations are not just evidentiary