Amis de la Terre and Sherpa v. Perenco
Jurisdiction: Court of Paris
Side A: Amis de la Terre and Sherpa (Ngo)
Side B: Perenco (Corporation)
Core objectives: Whether associations have standing to act in defense of a collective interest and obtain a measure of inquiry against a French company carrying out activities in a foreign country?
SummaryPerenco is a French oil company specialized in the optimization of previously exploited oil wells. The company is increasingly present in Africa, and is the only oil operator present in the DRC. According to Friends of the Earth, Perenco has been implicated in numerous reports, investigations and interpellations by the Congolese Senate, local associations, and international NGOs for serious environmental and health violations.
(i) any interested party may ask the French judge for an investigative measure if there is a legitimate reason to preserve or establish, before any proceedings, evidence which could be relevant to the resolution of a dispute, provided that the action envisaged is not manifestly inadmissible or would be contrary to the law or doomed to failure.
(ii) With regard to the conflict of laws, a claimant for compensation for environmental damage or subsequent damage may choose to invoke either the law of the country in which the damage occurred or the law of the country in which the event giving rise to the damage occurred. Here, in the case of environmental damage suffered in the DRC due to the de facto control and dominant influence of the company whose head office is in France over the companies of the group operating in the DRC, the event giving rise to the damage is located in France.
(iii) Therefore, the right to request any measures to preserve or establish evidence that could be relevant to the outcome of a case with a view to holding a company, whose registered office is located in France, liable for environmental damage observed abroad, is defined in the lex fori. The lex fori (or law of the forum) is an international law principle, which provides that the law of the jurisdiction or venue in which a legal action is brought applies.