The cost of litigating these cases can make them prohibitively expensive to bring, so there’s unlikely to be a flood of similar litigation in the future
In a case likely to set new accountability standards for Canadian mining companies operating abroad, Vancouver-based Pan American Silver on Tuesday apologized to four Guatemalans who were shot in 2013 while staging a peaceful demonstration at the entrance to one of its mines.
The company also struck legal settlements, though terms remain confidential, with the Guatemalans to end ongoing litigation in British Columbia accusing it of negligence.
It marks one of three cases filed in Canada in recent years, in which a mining company has been sued for negligence because of alleged human rights abuses connected with its operations overseas. The other two cases are still pending in Canada.
“I think the important part is the precedent it set in terms of opening up the Canadian court system for foreign plaintiffs to bring cases of this nature forward,” said Joe Fiorante, of Fiorante Camp, who represented the victims.
“It’s part of an emerging legal framework that’s trying to re-conceptualize these cases as Canadian legal problems, not just something that happened overseas,” he added.