earlier post, we described how the Canadian claim was
blocked in the Ontario Superior Court at a very early
stage. Justice Brown stayed the action on the grounds
that Chevron Corp. (the defendant in the Ecuadorian case) has no
assets in Canada. Its wholly owned but indirect subsidiary, Chevron
Canada, does have assets here, but the assets of a subsidiary do
not belong to the parent company.
The plaintiffs successfully appealed that decision on procedural
grounds and will now have another chance to pursue Chevron assets
Too early to stay the Ecuador oil pollution damage claim
The villagers appealed on the basis that Justice Brown
granted the stay on his own initiative, not at the defendants'
request (because they had not agreed that an Ontario court had
jurisdiction) and that this was an error. The Court of Appeal
 ... [T]he motion judge's stay in a major case
involving poor and vulnerable foreign residents, one of the
world's largest corporations, a long and difficult process in a
foreign court, and a huge damages award, was entirely his own
construct; no party sought it. Consequently, this issue was
not argued before the trial judge, and no cases were put before him
regarding the appropriateness of granting a discretionary stay.
The Court of Appeal essentially said that Justice Brown's
reasoning about the merits of the claim may be right, but that he
was wrong to decide these issues so early in the case, without
giving both sides a full opportunity to argue each of his points.
The Court of Appeal therefore overturned the stay, and
allowed the case to proceed in Ontario. Chevron will have to
respond to the claim on its merits.
 ... [T]he Ecuadorian plaintiffs do not deserve to
have their entire case fail on the basis of an argument against
their position that was not even made, and to which they did not
have an opportunity to respond. In these circumstances, the
Ecuadorian plaintiffs should have an opportunity to attempt to
enforce the Ecuadorian judgment in a court where Chevron will have
to respond on the merits. That the plaintiffs in this case
may ultimately not succeed on the merits of their recognition and
enforcement action, or that they may not succeed in successfully
collecting from the judgment debtors against whom they bring this
action, are not relevant factors for a court to consider in
determining whether to grant a discretionary stay before the
defendants have even attorned to the jurisdiction of the Ontario
court. A party may bring an action for all kinds of strategic
reasons, recognizing that their chances of collection on the
judgment are minimal. It is not the role of the court to weed out
cases on this basis and it is a risky practice for a judge to
second-guess counsel on strategy in the name of judicial
The case will be heard in Ontario
As Justice MacPherson concluded:
 Even before the Ecuadorian judgment was
released, Chevron, speaking through a spokesman, stated that
Chevron intended to contest the judgment if Chevron lost. He
said: "We're going to fight this until hell freezes over.
And then we'll fight it out on the ice."
 Chevron's wish is granted. After
all these years, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs deserve to have the
recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment heard on the
merits in an appropriate jurisdiction. At this juncture,
Ontario is that jurisdiction.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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