Friends of the Earth et al. v. Total
In 2019, Six NGO's sued carbon major Total over a proposed oil project in Uganda and Tanzania. The claimants brought the case under the French Duty of Vigilance Law which requires French companies to identify and prevent risks to human rights and the environment that could occur as a result of their business practices.
The claimants allege violation of human rights by conventional pollution, but also argue that Total's plan does not properly account for greenhouse gas emissions.
The case is currently pending.
In 2017, France enacted a new "Duty of Vigilance Law" which requires large corporations headquartered in France to identify risks to human rights, health and safety, and the environment from their business operations. Corporations are required to establish and publish a vigilance plan which identifies these risks. Beyond simply identifying the risks, the law also requires companies to effectively implement these measures.
The Tilenga project is a proposed oil project by French carbon major Total. In the project, Total plans to sink more than 400 oil wells, 132 of which will be drilled in Uganda's Murchison Falls National Park. A series of pipelines is also planned to transport the oil.
Two French NGO's, and several groups of Ugandan activists brought a complaint that Total had violated France's Duty of Vigilance law by failing to properly compensate local landowners and put sufficient environmental safeguards in place.
Relevant Laws and Principles
- Duty of Vigilance Law - France
In 2020, the Nanterre High Court of Justice ruled that it was not competent to hear the case. The claimants have appealed.
- Sabin Center Database
- Grantham Research Institute
- Total Uganda - A first lawsuit under the duty of vigilance law: an update