Fasken represented Nevsun in a novel and precedent setting case concerning the ability of foreign nationals to bring suits in Canadian courts for alleged human rights abuses committed abroad. The Plaintiffs alleged that Nevsun entered into a commercial venture with the state of Eritrea to develop the Bisha Mine in Eritrea, in the course of which it aided and abetted Eritrea in committing human rights abuses. The Plaintiffs sought damages under international law from Nevsun for the use of forced labour, torture, slavery, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and crimes against humanity. They also sought damages for torts recognized under British Columbia law. Nevsun strongly denied these allegations.
This was a cutting edge case, the first of its kind in Canada, raising a number of complex and precedent setting issues of first impression, including whether foreign nationals can sue Canadian parent companies in Canadian courts for alleged human rights abuses committed abroad; whether Canadian courts may consider the legality of the conduct of a foreign sovereign nation; and whether civil claims against corporate defendants can be premised upon alleged violations of customary international law.
Fasken represented Nevsun Resources Ltd., with a team led by our late colleague, Mark D. Andrews, Q.C., Andrew I. Nathanson, Michael Parrish, Gavin Cameron, Alexandra Mitretodis and Tom Posyniak.
This case was named one of Lexpert®’s Top 10 Cases of 2019-2020.