Saúl versus RWE - The Huaraz Case

Huaraz, Palcacocha, Peru

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.

Der Fall Huaraz

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Blogpost
30 March 2017
BLOG Vorschaubild
Blog post by Noah Walker-Crawford, March 2017

Due to heavy rainfall the risks in Huaraz increase, but no considerable damage has happened yet. Hundreds of thousands of people in Peru are hit by floods and landslides which are the result of unusually strong rainfall. Poorer populations in particular are confronted with the consequences of those rainfalls. Many people lost their homes and are now facing an unsecure future.

Press Release
26 January 2017
Bild: Germanwatch Pressemitteilung
Saúl Luciano Lliuya will file an appeal to the Higher Regional Court Hamm (Germany) against the decision made by the District Court Essen. The Peruvian, who lives in the high Andes, aims to make the german energy corporation RWE bear a share of the costs for protective measures against the impacts of climate change on his home.

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.

Press Release
15 December 2016
Bild: Germanwatch Pressemitteilung

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.

Press Release
24 November 2016
Bild: Germanwatch Pressemitteilung
After the initial hearing at the regional court in Essen, the civil chamber will announce on December 15 whether the first European civil court climate case against a big emitter will proceed to the evidentiary phase. The Peruvian mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya wants to achieve that the energy giant RWE covers a share of the preventative measures against climate effects needed in his hometown.

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.

Press Release
03 June 2016
Bild: Germanwatch Pressemitteilung
The Peruvian mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya is demanding that the Essen Regional Court in Germany order the energy firm to pay for safety measures to protect his home town. Climate change has caused a glacial lake to fill up to the brim, threatening to flood the city of Huaraz.

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.”

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Statement SAUL english, 21.03.2015

"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."

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