For the first time, a company responsible for climate change faces legal charges in Europe: Today, the Peruvian farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya is filing a lawsuit against the German utility RWE at the Regional Court in Essen, Germany. The reason: The energy company’s immense emissions threaten his family, his property as well as a large part of his home city of Huaraz.
The "Huaraz Case" at a glance
24.11.2015: Saúl Luciano Lliuya files the lawsuit, which is classified by the District Court Essen as "a legal matter with fundamental significance".
June 2016: In its statement of defence, RWE disputes its own responsibility for climate change induced damage in the Andes and denies that Huaraz even faces a risk of flooding.
24.11.2016: The first oral hearing takes place amid great national and international interest – the decision was adjourned.
15.12.2016: The District Court Essen dismisses the civil lawsuit against RWE.
26.01.2017: Saúl Luciano Lliuya files an appeal before the Higher Regional Court Hamm against the negative ruling of the Regional Court Essen.
13.11.2017: The appeal at the Higher District Court Hamm is scheduled as an oral hearing.
30.11.2017: The Higher Regional Court Hamm announces its decision to enter into the evidentiary stage thereby writing legal history.
25.02.2018 and 14.03.2018: The Higher Regional Court of Hamm clearly rejects two statements of objection filed by RWE’s lawyers against the Court’s Order for the Hearing of Evidence and states once again: climate damages can give rise to corporate liability.
July 2018: Since plaintiff and defendant cannot agree on experts for the taking of evidence, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm announces that it will select them itself.
September 2018: The experts selected by the Higher Regional Court of Hamm accept their appointment. They will provide an opinion on the question of wether or not there is a serious threat of impairment to the plaintiff‘s property. If this question is answered positively, there will be taking of evidence with regards to the defendant‘s part of responsibility for this impairment due to RWE‘s CO₂ emissions.
2019: On the recommendation of the experts, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm has made a request to the State of Peru to be allowed to inspect the premises that are the subject of the lawsuit. The Court is at present awaiting response from the competent authorities, which can take quite some time to process.
2020: Unfortunately, the taking of evidence in Huaraz will be further delayed due to the Corona-crisis and resulting travel restrictions.
Today the mountain guide and small-scale farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya from Peru filed an appeal against the decision made by the Regional Court Essen (Germany) in his lawsuit against RWE. Together with his attorney Dr. Roda Verheyen (Hamburg), he will continue his efforts before the Higher Regional Court Hamm to compel RWE, as the largest emitter of CO2 in Europe, to contribute to protective measures against the effects of climate change in the Peruvian Andes. These effects threaten major parts of his hometown, Huaraz. The court of first instance had dismissed the “climate suit” in mid-December.
Today, the Regional Court Essen dismissed the civil suit of Peruvian mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya against RWE. The legal process is likely to continue: Attorney Verheyen announced that her client will “most likely” present an appeal at the Higher Regional Court Hamm.
In the “climate suit” of Peruvian mountain guide and small farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya against RWE, the regional court in Essen has announced that it will decide on December 15 whether the suit will proceed to the evidentiary phase. Thus it remains unclear whether, for the first time, a German civil court will probe in detail the question to what extent big contributors to climate change must pay for the costs of preventative measures against the risks that others face in the course of global climate change. The claimant Saúl Luciano Lliuya and his attorney Dr. Roda Verheyen (Hamburg) are optimistic. “In an open proceeding, we laid out why our claims are valid and legitimate, and why this is a matter that the regional court must consider”, says attorney Roda Verheyen.
Representing RWE, the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has filed its first response to a civil suit filed by the Peruvian small-scale farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya. The german firm denies responsibility for climate change impacts in the Peruvian Andes. In the written statement, the lawyers claim that RWE has no liability under German civil law. The claimant Saúl Luciano Lliuya expected such a reaction and is determined to pursue his case at the Essen Regional Court (Germany) in a hearing this autumn with his Hamburg lawyer Dr. Roda Verheyen: “RWE needs to take responsibility for its emissions. We in Peru have hardly made any contribution to climate change, but we live with the worst consequences.”
Today, the Peruvian farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya is filing a lawsuit against the German utility RWE at the Regional Court in Essen, Germany. The reason: The energy company’s immense emissions threaten his family, his property as well as a large part of his home city of Huaraz. Climate change has caused the glacial lake to quickly grow in size, making it a risk for the Andean city of 120,000.
"I am happy to have become active and it overwhelms me how much interest and support I have received in my country and around the world. This gives me the courage and strength to move forward. Climate change affects all countries in the world. Therefore we have to stand up for justice."
Channel 4 News, 15.07.2020
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