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 "Case of Huaraz" 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.
In November 2015, Saúl Luciano Lliuya, a Peruvian farmer living in Huaraz in Peru, filed a lawsuit in Germany against RWE, Germany’s largest electricity producer. Mr Lliuya claims that his house in the village of Huaraz is at imminent risk of being damaged or destroyed due to an outburst flood from a glacial lake, caused by the melting of glaciers linked to climate change.
In the trial of the Peruvian mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya against the energy company RWE before the Higher Regional Court of Hamm, the court has now announced that it will select the experts for the taking of evidence itself.
Germanwatch provides unauthorised English translations of the most important court documents of the Huaraz case. Moreover, court documents of the defendants party have been summarized and translated into English. Recent documents will be uploaded on a current basis.
This document describes, amongst other things, the legal basis for Saúl Luciano Lliuya’s claim, his exact reasoning, the first-instance decision, the clear votum of the higher regional court in Hamm and the consequential indicative ruling and decision to take evidence. You can also find additional information regarding the role of climate models and science in this interesting background document.
The decision announced today by the Higher Regional Court Hamm (Germany) to enter into the evidentiary stage in the case of Saúl Luciano Lliuya against the german utility RWE is of great legal relevance. It is the first time that a court acknowledged that a private company is in principal responsible for its share in causing climate damages. This applies if concrete damages or risks for private persons or their property can partly be assigned to the activities of the relevant company.
"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."
TIME Magazine, 05.10.2018
Climate Change Could Destroy This Peruvian Farmer's Home
Deutsche Welle, 14.03.2018
Video: Farmer in Peru vs. a German utility (4 min.)
Peruvian Farmer Explains His Lawsuit Against Energy Firm
Deutsche Welle (english), 09.01.2018
Four climate change lawsuits to watch in 2018
The Guardian, 30.11.2017
German court to hear Peruvian farmer's climate case against RWE
Climate Liability News, 30.11.2017
German Court OKs Potentially Groundbreaking Climate Lawsuit
The Guardian, 10.09.2017
See you in court (Editorial)
The Washington Post, 07.08.2017
A flood of problems
International Business Times, 25.11.16
A Peruvian farmer is suing German energy giant RWE over climate change
New York Times, 10.05.2017
In Novel Tactic on Climate Change, Citizens Sue Their Governments
The Guardian / theguardian.com, 16.03.2015
Peruvian farmer demands climate compensation from German company