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In the interests of accuracy, the summaries of cases referred to under each Red Flag are based wherever possible on the available court documents or other public legal sources.


The contents and documents of this web site are intended for learning purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or opinion. www.redflags.info is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




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Since the launch of Red Flags in May 2008, several cases have emerged confirming the significance of the original list of nine Red Flags to watch out for. Links to these have been provided in the news updates in the right hand margin in each Red Flag. Also, divestment decisions, regulatory actions or policy development which attempt to grapple with the problems identified by each Red Flag have also been noted.

At the same time, developments since May 2008 suggest the emergence of additional liability risk and the need for a tenth Red Flag.

10.Contaminating People's Air, Land or Water

Company activities which result in contamination of basic sources of life and livelihoods can result in liabilities. A company may face court action if their acts or omissions result in pollution or other forms of contamination that cause widespread damage to the sources of life or violate national laws governing the handling of pollutants.

A Swiss-based multinational company was sued in U.K. courts by 30,000 people in connection with health affects suffered as the result of the dumping of toxic waste in Cote d'Ivoire in 2006. The case was settled out of court in October 2009.

A U.S. oil company is being sued in Ecuador in connection with the pollution of water systems in a rain forest region inhabited by indigenous peoples. The case was initiated in the U.S. but is in its final stages in Ecuador.

A Dutch-U.K. company is facing a law suit in a Dutch court for alleged negligence related to oil spills in Nigeria. An environmental group and four Nigerians brought the case. The court ruled the case addmissable in late 2009 and the case is proceeding.

The subsidiary of a A U.S. based company was convicted in India along with seven of its employees in connection with a leak of thousands of tonnes of chemicals from a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India. Amnesty International reports that "Between 7,000 and 10,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and a further 15,000 over the next 20 years." More on the Bhopal case here


11.Investing in Occupied Territories

Investments or operations in occupied territories can violate international law. A company may face liability if their investments or activities in occupied territories support the occupier in violating international laws governing military occupation.

A French court has ruled that it will allow a complaint to be heard against two French companies for their role in building a tram line in East Jerusalem, which is part of the occupied West bank. The companies have challenged the claims and the cases are pending.

Two Canadian companies are facing law suits in Quebec courts for their role in the construction of the settlements in the West Bank near the Palestinian town of Bi'ilin in alleged violation of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own population into the territory occupied. A Judge dismissed a case against two Montreal companies in late 2009. Both sides are appealing the decision.




The Red Flags assume the common principle that everyone is innocent until found otherwise in a court of law. With that in mind, all cases in the Red Flags pamphlet and web site are referred to as examples of liability risk and do not imply any position as to the charges or complaints filed.

As noted in the description of the Red Flags web site, the principal criteria for selection as an example of a Red Flag risk has been whether the substantive allegations are illustrative of fact patterns which current case law in a number of jurisdictions indicates may give rise to some form of legal action. It is those fact patterns which companies should seek to avoid.

In this sense, a risk of liability is defined here as the potential for litigation. This is not a legal definition, but an operational one intended for use by companies in their risk management.

The Red Flags assume that the law is evolving. Cases referred to by the Red Flags guide have concluded as convictions, acquittals, and out of court settlements. Several are still ongoing or have yet to move to trial. In practice, these cases are typically very complex substantively and procedurally and include numerous claims and allegations, not all of which may be substantiated. Also, sources of law are complex and will vary across jurisdictions, further complicating the task of drawing lessons from comparisons between jurisdictions.

Court in Ecuador Hands Down Landmark Decision Against Chevron
An Ecuadoran judge has ordered Chevron to pay US$ 9 billion for environmental damages in the country's Amazon region. The landmark decision comes after a titanic legal battle for years in both US and Ecuadoran courts and marks what experts are calling the largest order for environmental damages every issued by a court.
(14-02-2011)
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Conflict Minerals Law Passed in U.S.
A new U.S. law requires publicly traded companies to disclose to the SEC whether their products contain gold, tin, tungsten or tantalum from Congo or adjacent countries. If so, they have to describe what measures they are taking to trace the minerals' origin. The State and Treasury departments are examining the possibility of future sanctions against U.S. companies that use "conflict minerals."
(22-07-2010)
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Governments Must Remove Barriers to Corporate Accountability says new report
A report out this week from Fafo, Amnesty International, and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre identifies obstacles to judicial remedies for business involvement in human rights abuses and sets out a series of reforms. The report argues governments need to take urgent action.
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Indian Court Convicts Union Carbide subsidiary and seven employees in connection with Bhopal Disaster
A court in India has convicted Union Carbide's Indian subsidiary and seven of its employees with "death by negligence" in connection with the 1984 leak of toxic gas that killed an estimated 15,000 people in the world's worst industrial disaster. The ruling will be appealed and is being criticized by community activists who claim it is too little too late.
(06-06-2010)
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Dutch Court Will Hear Complaint Against Shell in Nigeria
A Dutch court has ruled that is has the authority to handle a case brought against a unit of Shell for alleged negligence related to oil spills in Nigeria. The case was brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands and four Nigerians. The court rejected Shell's claim that the court was not competent to hear the case.
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Appeals Pending Against Two Montreal Companies Sued Over Activities Under Occupation
A Quebec Superior Court Judge has dismissed a case against two Montreal companies alleging complicity in violations of the Geneva Conventions. Green Mount International Inc. and Green Park International Inc are accused of building settlements on Palestinian land under Israeli military occupation. Both sides are appealing the decision.
(30-09-2009)
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Warrant Issued for former Union Carbide Head
A court in India has issued a warrant for the arrest of the former head of the American chemical company responsible for a gas leak that killed at least 10,000 people in Bhopal 25 years ago. Bhopal's chief judicial magistrate ordered the arrest of former head of the Union Carbide corporation, who is reportedly living in the U.S.
(31-07-2009)
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Veolia divests under public and legal pressure
Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reports the French transport company Veolia is pulling out of a controversial light rail project in Jerusalem. A French court agreed in 2009 to hear a lawsuit brought against Veolia and Alstom by solidarity activists who argue the project is in violation of international law. Veolia had gone to court in Sweden after a decision by Stockholm authorities to end its 3.5 billion Euro contract running the city's public transport system. Human Rights organisations say the decision may have been influenced by Veolia's involvement in projects in the occupied West Bank.
(07-06-2009)
Two Montreal companies Sued over activities under occupation
In July, 2008, the Palestinian Village of Bil'in launched a lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court against two Montreal companies: Green Mount International Inc. and Green Park International Inc. The two companies are accused of building condominiums on Palestinian land under Israeli military occupation.
(31-07-2008)
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Red Flags Launched in London 23 May
International Alert and the Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies launched the Red Flags guide and web site 23 May at a seminar in London.
(22-05-2008)
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