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Agreement gives hope to Ivorian toxic waste claimants

Payment process for 30,000 claimants set to commence in March

Photo: istock

14 February 2010

An agreement between Leigh Day & Co and Claude Gohourou has just been signed which will enable the verification and then payment process for the 30,000 Ivorian claimants from the legal action against Trafigura to commence.
In September 2009 Trafigura paid a large amount of compensation into a Leigh Day account in Abidjan with the SGBCI bank. In October Claude Gohourou obtained a freezing order whilst Leigh Day was in the process of organising the pay-out process. Following various court hearings, a little over two weeks ago a terrible judgment from the Court of Appeal in Abidjan ordered the transfer of the compensation monies from the Leigh Day account that of the CNVDT (Claude Gohouro's association).  M Gohourou then attempted to obtain a cheque for the compensation from the bank but a mixture of the police and political intervention prevented that happening.
Then ten days ago the President of the Supreme Court agreed to a stay on the transfer. However, the forces in Abidjan that had persuaded the Court of Appeal to make their decision in M Gohourou's favour seemed likely to also prevail in the Supreme Court. 
As a result Leigh Day has felt it has had no alternative but to enter into talks with the CNVDT lawyers to see if there is a way of trying to ensure as much of the compensation as possible ends up in the pockets of the claimants rather than in the CNVDT bank account. Following a week of intense talks an agreement has now been signed. The agreement enables the Leigh Day verification process to be put into operation to try and ensure that the claimants are paid their compensation.
M Gohourou insisted that the terms of the agreement are confidential.
Leigh Day will be working with the claimants, and local representatives and the legal team of Kouame Klemet who has represented Leigh Day and the claimants in Abidjan to try and ensure the whole process works.
Martyn Day, senior partner of Leigh Day said today:

"I am pleased we have been able to reach this agreement. In many ways it has stuck in the craw having to negotiate in such circumstances but in the end the priority is getting the claimants their money. It will only be when we see each and every one of the 29,624 claimants walking away from the SGNCI bank with their full compensation can we declare the agreement to be a success and for the Ivorian system not to be as flawed as it has seemed at times. For the moment the agreement gives hope where there was little before. We will do whatever we can to turn that hope of compensation into a reality."
The validation process should commence in the week of 22nd February and the bank should start paying out the compensation from mid March onwards.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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