Last week, Canada’s highest court dismissed an attempt by the oil company Chevron to block Ecuadorian villagers from using a Canadian court to collect billions in damages for environmental contamination.
The ruling, which upholds a December ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal, means that the case may now proceed in Canada, but makes no findings on the merits of the case. The issue being considered by the court was whether or not the villagers and the dispute with Chevron had a ‘real or substantial connection’ with the province of Ontario, where the case will now be heard.
This decision comes after the villagers won a $9.5 billion dollar damage case in a suit against Chevron in Ecuador. But since Chevron sold off all of its assets in Ecuador, the company said it would not pay. As a result, villagers went after Chevron’s subsidiary in Canada to collect the damages.
Justice Clement Gascon, who wrote for the court, stated, “A finding of jurisdiction does nothing more than afford the plaintiffs the opportunity to seek recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment…I take no position on whether Chevron Canada can properly be considered a judgment-debtor to the Ecuadorian judgment…Similarly, should the judgment be recognized and enforced against Chevron, it does not automatically follow that Chevron Canada’s shares or assets will be available to satisfy Chevron’s debt.”
For more, watch Canadian news on the case.