Welcome to this month's edition of the Africa newsletter. This litigation special focuses on the new wave of class actions coming out of the continent and jurisdiction issues.

The US has long been the home of the collective action (whereby a lawsuit can be filed or defended by an individual acting on behalf of a group). However, the UK is beginning to catch up, resulting in a wave of new claims. A number of this new breed of class action originates from the African continent and relates to the conduct of multinationals. One such example involves Royal Dutch Shell and relates to Ogale and Bille communities from Nigeria, who are seeking to clean up and seek reparations for oil pollution that has devastated their village and lands from Shell in the UK. In another case Anglo American is being sued in what is believed to be one of the largest ever class action lawsuits in Africa. The case which is being financially supported by UK litigation fund Augusta Ventures, is being brought against Anglo on behalf of 100,000 children and women allegedly poisoned by the toxic Kabwe lead mine in Zambia.

The question is, who will be next? But each of these cases inevitably faces jurisdictional challenges. 

Our newsletter provides a snapshot of current class action disputes and interesting jurisdictional challenges across the continent. Our opinion piece looks at the hurdles that potential claimants face suing in the UK.

We hope you enjoy reading this edition of the newsletter. To register interest in a webinar on class actions in Africa, please click here.

Is the Wave Coming?

We have included an article this month written by Gareth Jones and Nick Ashcroft from Addleshaw Goddard which we hope you enjoy reading.

There have been four recent examples of groups of African claimants seeking redress before the English Courts in respect of alleged wrongs committed and causing damage in African nations by local subsidiaries of English-headquartered multinational groups.

This article will examine briefly the procedural challenges faced by groups of African claimants seeking to have their claims heard in England, before considering briefly what the future may hold in this area.

To read this article click here.

Listeriosis Class Action drags on

Cape Times (South Africa) - THREE years after the death of her newborn baby as a result of listeriosis, Thenjiwe Dodo of Bloemfontein said the trauma for her and her family continued as the class action law suit against Tiger Brands, involving more than 900 claimants, dragged on.

To read this article click here

University don advocates legal action to tackle hydrocarbon soot

Port Harcourt — A university don, Prof Chisa Dike, has charged lawyers and human right crusaders to use the legal means of class action, to deal with the ravaging hydrocarbon soot pollution been experienced in Rivers State and environs.

To read this article click here.

Ex-Koevoet members seek compensation

MORE than 27 years after soldiers who belonged to the specialised unit known as Koevoet lost their jobs when the new democratic government came into power, they have approached the courts in a bid to institute a class action against the Police Ministry for compensation.

They are asking the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, for an order declaring that all persons in the unit who were employed by the SAPS on or after 1993 be permitted to constitute a class action.

To read this article click here.

Online loan company’s bid to appeal dealt blow by court

CAPE TOWN - A local loan-application operation has been dealt yet another blow by the Western Cape High Court when it turned down its application for leave to appeal against the certification of Stellenbosch University’s Law Clinic class action case against it.

Judge Patrick Gamble this week found that the Lifestyle Direct Group failed to show that they have reasonable prospects on appeal of persuading another court to set aside the certification of the Law Clinic’s class action, and dismissed the application for leave to appeal with costs.

To read this article click here.

Judge dismisses points of law on jurisdiction with costs

MBABANE - High Court Judge Doris Tshabalala says the matter that was before her was a simple application to grant mandatory order directing the registrar of the Supreme Court and the chief justice to perform their public statutory functions.

She said the mandatory order that was being sought by the applicants (MPs Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube) was one compelling the respondents (registrar of the Supreme Court and chief justice) to ensure enrolment of their bail appeal for hearing on an urgent basis before the Supreme Court. The judge further observed that the application was based on assertions that there had been an inordinate delay since October when the urgent bail appeal was said to be ripe for hearing, with no date set.

To read this article click here.

Cabinet meeting approves draft presidential decree on jurisdiction of court clerks

The Cabinet meeting, on Thursday 30 December, approved a presidential decree amending and supplementing the government decree No. 2018-420 of May 7, 2018, on the jurisdiction of court clerks and the conditions of attribution and withdrawal of specific prerogatives.

The Cabinet Meeting, held at Carthage Palace and chaired by President of the Republic Kais Saied, was briefed on the health situation in relation to the coronavirus pandemic and on market supply with basic products and price control.

To read this article click here.


Jurisdiction of civil court recognised in Uganda upstream project

The French Supreme Court has ruled that a case filed against TotalEnergies crude oil project in Uganda can be heard by the civil division of the judiciary.

The court delivered its ruling on the suit filed by six French and Ugandan civil society organisations (CSOs) that revolves on developing the crude oilfield and building the export pipeline from western Uganda to Tanzania's Tanga port.

To read this article click here.

Battle over AEDC: BPE challenges court's jurisdiction

The Bureau of Public Enterprises challenged the jurisdiction of a Federal High Court, Abuja to hear a suit filed against it and others over the controversial takeover of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company.

To read this article click here.

Akume Loses Bid To Stop Ortom’s N60bn Libel Suit

A Makurdi High Court has dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the minister of special duties and inter-governmental affairs, Senator George Akume, to the N60 billion libel suit instituted against him by Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, for lack of merit.

To read this article click here.

Sonny Odogwu's Administrators Urge Court To Dismiss Bank's Suit Over Alleged Indebtedness

LAGOS – The Administrator of the Estate of late business mo¬gul, Chief Sonny Odogwu, and other com¬panies associated with the late Mogul have asked the Federal High court, La¬gos, to decline jurisdiction on a suit filed by a bank, seeking to take over the late businessman's Project Finance property over al¬leged unpaid debt.

To read this article click here.

Appeal Court orders Rivers, Imo to retain 50/50 sharing formula on disputed oil wells

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has ordered the Rivers and Imo states governments to retain the 50/50 percent sharing formula on the revenue from the disputed Akiri and Mbede oil wells pending the final resolution of the existing boundary dispute between both states by the National Boundary Commission.

In a unanimous decision, a three-member panel of the court set aside most of the reliefs earlier granted in favour of the Rivers State Government by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja in a February 26, 2020 judgment.

To read this article click here.

Shell appeals judgement stopping gas flare in Delta

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has filed an appeal challenging the judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Benin, Edo State, which ordered stoppage to flaring of gas in Iwhrekan community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

To read this article click here.

$418m Paris Club Refund - Govt Asks Court to Dismiss Suit by 36 States

The Federal Government yesterday challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Abuja to hear a suit the 36 states of the federation filed to stop it from deducting $418million from their bank account to settle debt in relation to the Paris Club Refund.

The government maintained that its decision to deduct the fund to settle some consultants, was based on a previous verdict of the court.

To read this article click here.

Judge allows sale of Dusit hotel complex over Sh5 billion debt

A Judge has allowed a prime property at Nairobi's 14 Riverside Drive where high-end office suites and Dusit D2 Hotel stand to be auctioned over a Sh5 billion debt. Justice Alfred Mabeya dismissed an application by I&M Bank and its administrator, seeking to stall the sale. They argued that the company that owns the building owes them $25 million (Sh2.82 billion). The complex is owned by Cape Holdings Ltd and has been embroiled in a dispute since 2010 over a botched sale deal. Synergy Industrial Credit, which wants to auction the property, had paid Sh750 million to acquire some of the apartments but the deal fell through and the matter was referred to an arbitrator.

To read this article click here.

Key Contacts

Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor

Head of UK M&A and Africa
London, UK

View profile
Nick Ashcroft

Nick Ashcroft

Partner, Dispute Resolution
United Kingdom

View profile