Unilever Judgment

Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing DBE today handed down judgment in AAA and other v Unilever PLC and Unilever Tea Kenya Limited [2017] EWHC 371 (QB) finding that the Court did not have jurisdiction to hear largely personal injuries claims brought by Kenyan employees and other persons present on and around a tea plantation operated by Unilever Tea Kenyan Limited in Kericho, Kenya.  The injuries were alleged to have been caused by criminal third parties during post-election violence following the 2007 Kenyan Presidential Elections.

The finding of no jurisdiction was primarily based on the proposed claim against Unilever PLC, the alleged UK based parent company, being struck out on being found to be doomed to fail.  The Claimants contended that the Court had jurisdiction over the Kenyan company as a necessary and proper party to the claim against the UK based alleged parent company (the “anchor defendant gateway”) which in turn relied on a “parent company duty of care” modelled on the Court of Appeal’s decision in Chandler v Cape [2012] 1 WLR 3111.

Permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal has been granted.

Charles Gibson QC instructed by Jamie Curle of DLA Piper, represented Unilever PLC and Unilever Tea Kenya Limited, leading Adam Heppinstall and Ognjen Miletic from Henderson Chambers and Dr Philippa Webb from 20 Essex Street.