Case details

Vedanta Resources PLC and another (Appellants) v Lungowe and others (Respondents)

Case ID: UKSC 2017/0185

Case summary

  1. The proper approach to the "real issue"/"proper party" test under Practice Direction 6B para. 3.1, where a claimant seeks to sue a foreign subsidiary and a UK-domiciled parent company.
  2. The proper approach to the exercise of discretion under CPR r.6.37(3) in mass tort claims, particularly the weight to be given to the prospect of parallel foreign proceedings as against the prejudice caused to a foreign defendant in defending mass tort claims in England and Wales.
  3. The proper approach when determining whether there is a real risk that a claimant cannot obtain substantial justice in a foreign jurisdiction.
  4. The proper application of EU law principles and cases to claims brought against an English domiciled parent company, where the non-EU claimant sues both an EU-domiciled parent company and its non-EU subsidiary company.
  5. Whether to refer point (4) above to the EU Court of Justice.

The respondents are 1826 Zambian citizens ("the Claimants") who reside in the Chingola region of the Copperbelt Province in Zambia.

The second appellant/defendant ("KCM") is a public limited company, incorporated in Zambia. KCM is the owner and operator of the Nchanga copper mine in Zambia. It is the largest private employer in Zambia, where it employs approximately 16,000 people (the vast majority at Nchanga). The first appellant/defendant ("Vedanta") is a company incorporated in the UK which acts as a holding company for a group mining companies, including KCM.

On 31 July 2015 the Claimants issued proceedings against the KCM and Vedanta. They claimed to have suffered personal injury, damage to property and loss of income, amenity and enjoyment of land as a result of pollution and environmental damage caused by discharges of harmful effluent from the Nchanga mine since 2005.

On 19 August 2015 Akenhead J permitted the Claimants to serve the claim form on KCM outside the jurisdiction. In September and October 2015 Vedanta and KCM respectively applied for declarations that the court lacked jurisdiction to try the claims or, alternatively, that it should not exercise such jurisdiction that it might have. Coulson J dismissed those applications. The Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of those applications.

Judgment appealed

[2017] EWCA Civ 1528


  1. Vedanta Resources PLC
  2. Konkola Copper Mines PLC

Dominic Liswaniso Lungowe and 1825 others



Lady Hale. Lord Wilson, Lord Hodge, Lady Black, Lord Briggs

Hearing start date

15 Jan 2019

Hearing finish date

16 Jan 2019

Watch hearing
15 Jan 2019 Morning session Afternoon session
16 Jan 2019 Morning session Afternoon session