| 30 March 2023, Thursday |

French court dismisses Uganda lawsuit against TotalEnergies

On Tuesday, a French civil court determined that a lawsuit filed by activists against the energy giant TotalEnergies over its oil projects in Tanzania and Uganda was inadmissible.

In the 2019 lawsuit, six French and Ugandan activist groups charged the corporation of failing to take all reasonable precautions to safeguard people and the environment from the $3.5 billion East African Crude Oil Pipeline and the Tilenga oil development.

The campaigners wanted the court to order TotalEnergies to halt the east African projects, basing their case on a 2017 French law that requires companies to identify human rights and environmental risks in their global operations and supply chains, and to take measures to prevent them.

The Paris civil court dismissed the request, saying that only a judge examining the case more in depth could assess whether the accusations against TotalEnergies were founded, and to then proceed to an audit of operations on the ground.

TotalEnergies in a statement to Reuters said the court had found it “formally established a vigilance plan comprising the five items required by the duty of vigilance law, in sufficient detail so as not to be considered purely summary”.

The court in its ruling, the first based on the 2017 law, said nothing prevented France from enacting laws that govern the overseas activities of companies present in France.

TotalEnergies had argued a French court did not have jurisdiction over the overseas activities of its subsidiary TotalEnergies EP Uganda.

The campaigners can refile their suit as a standard trial, rather than the emergency fast-track procedure that was the basis of Tuesday’s ruling.

Friends of the Earth France said they reserved their right to further legal action.

  • Reuters