The Supreme Court of Canada has today allowed Ecuador pollution
plaintiffs to try to seek enforcement against Chevron Canada of
a multibillion-dollar damage award against Chevron
Corporation for oil pollution in Ecuador: Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguaje.
According to the court, this is a relatively simple question of
the mutual respect owed between states. Those who obtain a
"legitimate" foreign judgment may ask Canadian courts to
enforce it in Canada against a defendant who operates and has
assets here, whether or not there was a "real and
substantial" connection between the lawsuit and the Canadian
However, the court went out of its way to emphasize that it is
not prejudging any of the merits of the claim, including:
whether a judgment against Chevron
can be enforced against Chevron Canada, which is a different
whether there are other reasons not
to enforce the judgment at all, i.e. whether the Ecuador judgment
against Chevron is a "legitimate judicial act", or
"Legitimate judicial acts should be respected and enforced,
not sidetracked or ignored.....
The establishment of jurisdiction does not mean that the
plaintiffs will necessarily succeed in having the Ecuadorian
judgment recognized and enforced. A finding of jurisdiction does
nothing more than afford the plaintiffs the opportunity to seek
recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment. Once past
the jurisdictional stage, Chevron and Chevron Canada can use the
available procedural tools to try to dispose of the plaintiffs'
allegations. This possibility is foreign to and remote from the
questions that must be resolved on this appeal.
Further, the conclusion that the Ontario courts have
jurisdiction in this case should not be understood to prejudice
future arguments with respect to the distinct corporate
personalities of Chevron and Chevron Canada or whether Chevron
Canada's shares or assets will be available to satisfy
Chevron has lost a skirmish against the Ecuador pollution
plaintiffs, but the major battles are still ahead.
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