Canada: $9.5 Billion Dollar Claim To Enforce Judgment Dismissed

Last Updated: May 2 2019
Article by Paula Lombardi

On Thursday, April 4, 2019 the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the attempts of Ecuador's Lago Agrio Region requiring Chevron to pay for water and soil contamination relating to Texaco's activities in the area. The contamination was caused by Texaco's activities between the years 1964 and 1992. Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001.

In 2011 the villagers of the Lago Agrio Region obtained a judgment against Chevron in Equador. Chevron however has no assets in Ecuador and the villagers have been attempting to turn to the courts in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina to enforce the decision.

In 2017 the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that Chevron Canada was a separate entity from its parent company and because of that its share and assets could not be seized to enforce the judgment issued by the Ecuadorian court.

This case first began when 6 indigenous nations and more than 80 impacted communities founded the Union of People Affected by Texaco-Chevron Operations ("UDAPT"). The goal of UDAPT has been to seek environmental remediation and reparations for damages caused by the activities of the oil company to the local communities. The allegations included that the company dumped 16 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into waterways and open pits in the Ecuadorean Amazon between the years 1964 and 1992, affecting over 30,000 Indigenous people and Campesinos in the area.

A claim was brought against Texaco in the US in 1993. However, at the request of Texaco the case was transferred to Ecuador and the hearings, referred to as the Lago Agrio case, were held at the local Sucumbíos provincial court. On February 11, 2011, after approximately twenty years, the Sucumbíos court ruled in favor of the UDAPT and sentenced Chevron-Texaco to pay a 9.5 billion dollar fine to compensate for the environmental harm and damages.

Chevron filed an appeal, and the ruling was ratified by the judiciary in Ecuador – including the National Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court (the highest court in Ecuador). According to the information available the Constitutional Court's ruling of July 2018 recognized that "many rights of indigenous peoples and peasants had been violated by the company."

More recently however, numerous courts throughout the world, including the international Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, unanimously found in favour of Chevron holding them not liable. In September 2018 the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Ecuador was guilty of violating a bilateral investment treaty executed with the United States in 1997. The International Tribunal also ruled that Ecuador will have to compensate Texaco for losses arising as a result of the legal proceedings. Chevron requested that Ecuador assume the US$9.5 billion judgment that the provincial court of Sucumbios in Ecuador sentenced Chevron to pay to the impacted communities.

The lawsuit against Chevron began in 1993 when the UDAPT sued for environmental damages in the state of New York. Chevron however took the position that the state of Ecuador violated an agreement in which Petroecuador, the state's oil company, agreed to assume all responsibilities for environmental damages when it permitted the Indigenous communities to sue Chevron-Texaco.

The arbitration court ruled that Ecuador did violate the 1997 bilateral investment treaty. However, Ecuador argued that there was no violation of the treaty as the 1997 investment treaty came into effect only after the communities' filed their lawsuit.

The case raises an increasingly difficult issue relating to the rise of environmental and social incidents involving multinational corporations. For example, the release of the mining waste dams of the Vale and BHP corporations in Brazil, repression of communities and recent deaths of environmental defenders such as Berta Cáceres and others highlights the concerns relating to international environmental issues, environmental defenders, and the difficulties in reaching a resolution and remediating years of environmental degradation and harm.

In January 2019, in Brazil, one of the dams associated with the mining firm Vale collapsed killing more than 150 people representing the second incident in approximately three years. The collapse of the dam resulted in approximately 11.7 m3 (413 m cubic ft) of mining waste entering into the valley, covering houses and leaving a path of clotting mud up to 8 metres (26ft) deep in some areas. In November 2015 another Vale-affiliated dam collapsed, killing 19 and contaminating the river for approximately 500 miles with the contamination heading to the Atlantic Ocean.

In March 2016, Berta Cáceres, the Honduran environmental rights activist and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH) was murdered by two gunmen in her own home. This occurred barely a week after she was threatened for opposing a hydroelectric project. Berta Cáceres was a vocal defender of the land and known for her devotion to the protection of Indigenous and campesino cultural rights as well as women's rights.

UN Environment defines an environmental defender as anyone who is defending environmental rights, including constitutional rights to a clean and healthy environment in circumstances where the exercise of those rights are under attack. What is surprising is that violations of environmental rights are growing internationally due to increased competition for natural resources, lax enforcement of environmental laws, and the continued exploitation of land and water and other natural features.

On October 21, 2016 the UN Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst, spoke in New York about the importance of environmental human rights defenders stating that "they are critical to our future but they face unprecedented risks" according to the new report released by the UN. Mr. Forst stated: "I am extremely worried and appalled by the growing number of attacks and murders of environmental defenders, but also by the continuous resistance of States to act in front of egregious human rights violations." Mr. Forst urged the international community to protect environmental defenders stating: "It is the responsibility of the States and international community to empower and protect these defenders. We should listen to those who raise an alarm against environmental disasters, climate change and irresponsible resource exploitation, not repress them," recommending a zero-tolerance approach to any violence against environmental human rights defenders.


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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions