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Human rights lawsuits against companies – our experiences with victims, their families and busines

Sir Geoffrey Chandler Speaker Series

3rd December 2009

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is pleased to invite you to an event featuring leading human rights lawyers: Martyn Day (UK) & Paul Hoffman (US). Both have brought landmark lawsuits against companies. They will be speaking on the same stage for the first time, and fielding questions from the audience.

Martyn and Paul will share:

  • highlights of past cases;
  • inside view of current cases;
  • comments on what more should be done to hold companies accountable under law; and
  • what they would say to companies wishing to avoid such lawsuits.

This event is not only for lawyers - it is equally for those from NGOs, business, government, media, investment firms, academia, etc - for anyone with an interest in human rights.

Martyn Day has brought human rights lawsuits against a number of companies during his career, including:

  • Trafigura over dumping of toxic waste in Côte d'Ivoire;
  • Cape plc & Gencor on behalf of South Africans suffering from asbestos-related diseases;
  • BP on behalf of Colombian farmers alleging severe environmental damage to their lands;
  • Anglo American (re South Africa); Thor Chemicals (re South Africa); Gallaher & Imperial Tobacco (on behalf of lung cancer victims).

Martyn is Senior Partner of London-based Leigh Day & Co Solicitors; he is also a Director of Greenpeace Environmental Trust. The Times named him one of the UK's most powerful and influential lawyers. Chambers said of Martyn: "He has a 'phenomenal' reputation in public law, environment and personal injury."

Paul Hoffman has brought lawsuits against companies including:

  • multinationals that allegedly supplied critical support to South Africa's government during apartheid;
  • Shell for alleged complicity in the Nigerian military government's summary execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 others;
  • Unocal for alleged complicity in abuses by the Burmese military;
  • Bridgestone-Firestone (re Liberia); Chevron (re Nigeria); Occidental Petroleum (re Colombia); Talisman (re Sudan); Wal-Mart (re various countries).

Paul is a partner at Schonbrun, De Simone, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman LLP, a law firm in California. He was named one of the 100 most influential attorneys in California, received the Clarence Darrow Award for outstanding First Amendment advocacy, and has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He previously was Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Southern California, and served as Chair of Amnesty International.

Please RSVP to Joe Westby:; phone +44 20 7636-7774. Please forward this invitation to others who may wish to attend - they should contact Joe Westby to reserve a space.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
This is the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre's third annual event in its "Sir Geoffrey Chandler speaker series", named for Sir Geoffrey's pioneering work in the field of business & human rights. Resource Centre staff and trustees would be pleased to see you at this event.

The Resource Centre tracks the human rights impacts (positive & negative) of 4500 companies in over 180 countries, seeks responses from companies when concerns are raised by civil society, and provides tools and resources for everyone working in this field. The Centre's Corporate Legal Accountability Portal highlights significant human rights lawsuits against companies in all parts of the world.

The Resource Centre is a registered charity in England & Wales, and a tax-exempt non-profit in USA. Our mandate, requiring complete independence, prevents us from accepting donations from companies or corporate foundations. Donations from individuals are therefore particularly important in enabling us to continue our work and convene events like this. Please consider an online donation, or sending a cheque to our London or New York office payable to "Business & Human Rights Resource Centre". Any support is greatly appreciated.

Event details:

Time: Thursday 3 December 2009
6:00pm Arrival
6:15-7:45pm Presentations - Questions & answers
Followed by reception (light refreshments -- Friends House does not allow alcohol on the premises)

Place: Friends House (Large Hall), 173-177 Euston Road (opposite Euston Station), London NW1 2BJ

Nearest underground stations are Euston and Euston Square. King's Cross underground and St Pancras International Terminus are a 10-minute walk.


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