Sweden

Sweden

Summary of Developments:

Arica v. Boliden: Chilean claimants allege that they suffered harm, including adverse health and environmental impacts, as a result of the negligent dumping and mismanagement of toxic waste in Chile by Swedish company Boliden. Decision due March 08, 2018. 

Case Law

Arica v. Boliden

  In a nutshell In more detail
Name of Case Arica Victims KB v. Boliden Mineral AB. Arica Victims KB (Company representing over 800 Chileans from the town of Arica alleging moral damages from the negligent actions of Boliden Mineral. During 1984-5 Boliden exported 20,000 tons of toxic mining waste containing high levels of arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium to Chile, which was subsequently left uncovered and untreated in  Arica) v. Boliden Mineral AB (Large multinational mining company headquartered in Sweden).
Area of Law Tort Law

Tort Law. Against Boliden, the claimants allege negligence in their actions in shipping 20,000 tons of toxic mining waste to Chile.

The defendants contracted out the processing of the toxic mining waste to Chilean company PROMEL. PROMEL was unable to process the waste which subsequently sat near housing complexes, with hundreds of local residents falling ill as a result over the following decades.

The claimants allege that the tortious act can be imputed to Boliden because it did not exercise reasonable care in disposing of its waste, the consequences of its actions were foreseeable, the risk that the damage would occur was high, and the magnitude of damage considerable.

In particular, it is argued that the defendant would or should have known PROMEL could not process the waste. This is evidenced in part by the defendant’s patent application made before exporting the waste, in which they claimed only they had the technology to make the waste safe.
Jurisdiction County Court of Skellefteå, Sweden.

County Court of Skellefteå, Sweden.

The claimants are arguing that Chilean law ought to apply on the grounds that the harms predate the effective date of European treaties that provide uniform "choice of law" rules throughout Europe, so Sweden's "choice of law" rules will be applied. The choice of law should therefore be determined according to the jurisdiction of harm.

Current Stage Awaiting Judgment.

The case was filed on 12th September 2013 at the County Court of Skellefteå, Sweden.

The trial was held in October and November 2017. Three judges presided over the hearing. Judgment is due to be handed down on 8th March 2018.

Requirement/Result Awaiting Judgment/ Damages The claimants have requested SEK 90 million in damages, plus interest.
Personal Scope

Claimants: Over 800 Chileans from the town of Arica, Chile.

Defendants: Boliden Mineral.

 
Enforcement    
Pros

 

  • First case of its kind in Sweden or Scandinavia. It is the first time a Swedish company has been sued in Sweden for harmful actions incurred outside of Sweden.
  • The case holds a ‘home’ corporate to account for harms inflicted abroad without needing to engage in the complexities of either the parent – subsidiary relationship, or liability through supply chains.
Cons  
  •  No determination has yet been made, and the defendant may appeal if the case is decided against it.
Resources

♦ Business & Human Rights Resource Center coverage.

♦ Information from Environmental Defender Law Center, an organisation involved in the case. 

 

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