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JUNE 2012

Legal Focus Disputes in the

chevron contamination case still appears to be far from over

The energy sector is one constantly touched by rapid change and development, and inevitably, dispute. Dispute in business is inevitable, and the energy sector is no different. It is an integral part of growing a business, succeeding within it, and maintaining that success. It is how disputes are handled that matters.

A

s environmental concerns become more and more severe, regulation becomes stricter and businesses have to fight an ever-evolving battle

to keep up and stay compliant, and face the consequences when something goes wrong.

Disputes can arise from almost any area of business within the energy sector – intellectual property related disputes such as copyrights, patents and trademarks; contract issues and employment disputes. However, despite the inevitability, the extent to which any disputes spread and the extent to which they affect your business, reputation and profit, can be controlled. By consulting experienced and skilled legal experts, disputes may not always be avoided entirely, but they can be navigated effectively and a solution beneficial to all involved is more likely to be settled.

One of the most high profile energy

disputes in recent history is the Chevron Amazon pollution case, which relates to the accusation that Texaco, which merged with Chevron over ten years ago, disposed of 18bn gallons of toxic materials between 1972 and 1992 in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Back in January of this year, an appeals court in Ecuador upheld the ruling that Chevron was liable to pay $18.2bn in damages – a decision that the company at the time branded as a ‘fraud’ and ‘illegitimate’. Originally, Chevron was ordered to pay only $8.6bn in damages, but this amount grew to more than double when it failed to declare a public apology.

This case has been complicated and lengthy, and is still ongoing. The latest development has seen the filing of a lawsuit against Chevron by an Ecuadorean community in order to seek remuneration for the alleged contamination. With so many developments, twists and turns, only time will tell how this case will end. LM

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