UK High Court Victory for Bangladeshi Arsenic Victims
- PRESS RELEASE
8 May 2003
HIGH COURT VICTORY FOR BANGLADESHI ARSENIC VICTIMS
Mr Justice Simon today gave judgment in the claim brought by victims
of arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh against the Natural Environment
Research Council, dismissing the Defendant's application to strike
out the victim's claims.
Leigh Day & Co and Alexander Harris represent approximately 750
Bangladeshi villagers suffering from arsenic poisoning, who claim
that the British Geological Survey (`BGS', a part of the NERC) was
negligent in their failure to test for arsenic when they carried out
a survey in 1992 on the toxicity of Bangladeshi well water. It is
the Claimants' case that if the BGS had carried out the necessary
tests they would have identified the very high levels of arsenic
contamination in the water. Instead, they gave the water a clean
bill of health and as a consequence the Claimants continued to drink
the water that was highly contaminated for a further 5-6 years
before the first arsenic victims were diagnosed.
The Claimants all suffer from arsenic related diseases. The lead
case, Mr Binod Sutradhur, has been diagnosed with painful ulcers on
his hands and feet - typical of arsenicosis, and is much more
vulnerable to skin cancer and other forms of cancer.
The Defendants sought to argue that they did not owe a duty of care
of the victims, and that the case should not proceed to trial. Mr
Justice Simon, dismissing the Defendant's application, concluded
that this case raises a novel point in the developing area of law on
the reliance of technical reports and that there is a case for the
Defendants to answer, which should be decided at a full trial.
Martyn Day of Leigh Day & Co said today:-
`The arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh has been a tragedy for many
thousands of villagers that may well have been prevented, or
certainly ameliorated, if the Defendants had done their job
properly. It is important for British justice that the Defendant's
liability is properly resolved by this case going forward to a full
trial. I am very pleased that the Court has today rejected the
Defendants attempt to block this happening.'
For further information please contact:-
Mr Martyn Day on 020 7650 1234; or
Mrs Bozena MichalowskaHowells on 020 7650 1238