Richard Meeran joined Leigh Day in 1990 to work on the firm’s pioneering case against the Sellafield nuclear plant.
He was made a partner in 1991 and was instrumental in developing the firm’s ethos to make multinational corporations accountable for their exploitation of workers. After a four year stint with Slater and Gordon in Australia, Richard rejoined the Leigh Day partnership in 2008.
Richard pioneered claims against UK based multinationals, Cape PLC for 7,500 South African asbestos and Thor Chemicals for South African workers poisoned by mercury. This included two landmark jurisdiction victories in the House of Lords, Connelly v RTZ Corporation Plc  3 WLR 373 and Lubbe & Others v Cape Plc 2000 1 WLR 1545.
He represented 31 Peruvian torture victims in case against Monterrico Metals plc, which was settled (without admission of liability) in July 2011. The obtaining of a worldwide freezing injunction for the claimants broke new ground, Tabra & Others v Monterrico Metals Plc  EWHC 2475;  EWHC 3228.
Between 2004 and September 2013, Richard worked with the South African Legal Resources Centre and Legal Aid South Africa on a series of 23 silicosis test cases against Anglo American South Africa by former South African gold miners. These cases were litigated in South Africa and were the subject of a confidential settlement. He is also acting, together with South African attorney, Zanele Mbuyisa, for more than 4000 South African gold miners in silicosis litigation against Anglo American South Africa in the UK and South Africa.
Richard Meeran is "tenacious, highly experienced and has a fantastic ability to present the issues with real clarity."
Chambers and partners 2017
Richard was the winner of the Liberty/Justice “Human Rights Lawyer of the Year” award (2002).
Richard was awarded a Certificate for Outstanding Achievement by 18 asbestos victims’ support groups worldwide which was presented at the South African High Commission in 2002. The representatives said:
“Representatives from international Asbestos Victims’ Groups and other specialists working with asbestos issues who met in London, on 17 April, 2002, hereby declare their admiration and respect for the individuals and groups which worked so hard to achieve compensation for South Africans injured by exposure to asbestos produced by the Cape Asbestos Co. Ltd.
“They wish to single out the outstanding efforts of Richard Meeran who pioneered this case. His single-minded commitment to his clients and determination to overcome all the legal hurdles was pivotal in obtaining justice for thousands of asbestos claimants. Furthermore, the victory of the Cape plaintiffs has put all multinational companies on notice: double standards of behaviour will no longer be tolerated. The export of discredited and dangerous technologies from the developed to the developing world must be stopped; as has been shown by the Cape case, legal avenues now exist to expose and punish such corporate misconduct.
“By signing this certificate, we hereby express our respect for Richard, his team at Leigh Day and all those who worked and campaigned for this landmark victory.”
Presentations and publications on business and human rights
Richard has presented extensively over the past 20 years, including:
- Richard was a panellist on the 9th United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights held on 17.11.20.
- Richard was an expert panel member at the 6th Meeting of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations UN Web TV 16.10.19.
- Richard was a panel member at the Fourth UN Intergovernmental Working Group session on proposed business & human rights treaty on 15th and 16 October 2018.
- Richard produced a podcast, Civil Litigation for Grave Abuses, in December 2017, as one of the Institute for Human Rights and Business' mini-series, Realising Access to Effective Remedy, part of the organisation's annual Top 10 Business & Human Rights issues for 2018.
- Richard spoke at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights which ran from 26 to 29 November 2017. Broadcast of first UN Forum session.
- Richard was a panellist at a United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Consultation held in Geneva on 5 and 6 October 2017. The session was entitled 'Human Rights Due Diligence and Claims of Negligence.'
- Richard was invited to attend a UN Day of General Discussion (DGD) held in Geneva on 21 February 2017 on State obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the context of business activities.
- Richard was a panellist for the second session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights where he contributed to the session on Implementing international human rights obligations: Examples of national legislation and international instruments applicable to TNCs and other business enterprises with respect to human rights
- On 19 October 2016, Shanta Martin and Richard Meeran gave evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Human Rights as it examines the UK’s compliance with international guidance on business and human rights. The full recording is on the Parliament live TV website. Leigh Day’s written submission to the JCHR Inquiry on Business and Human Rights was submitted in August 2016.
- Speaker at UN Human Rights Council (Geneva) event 'Past abuses and remaining challenges: new paths in Business and human rights' in June 2016
- Richard was a panellist at the United Nations 5th Meeting 1st Session of Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations Panel IV where he contributed to a discussion on the Obligations of States to guarantee the Respect of Human Rights by TNCs and other business enterprises, including extraterritorial obligation on 8.7.15
- Speaker at UN Human Rights Council (Geneva) side event on a Legally binding instrument on business and human rights - European perspectives March 2015
- Multinational Corporations' Foreign Human Rights Conduct: Experiences and Avenues of Domestic Litigation King's College, London 20.1.15
- November 2014 (Approaches for overcoming financial barriers to accessing judicial remedy mechanisms) and in November 2013, at the UN Forum on Business & Human Rights (Geneva)
- Presentation on “Access to judicial remedy in the business and human rights context in the EU: national developments, opportunities, and challenges”. Conference was on “The EU’s Business? Ensuring remedy for corporate human rights abuses” (European Parliament, Brussels 12 November 2014)
- Guest Speaker at 10th Anniversary of Stockholm University Environmental Law & Policy Centre and at Columbia Law School (New York).
At Leigh Day the international claims department represents the gold standard.
Legal 500 2021
Richard has more than 60 published articles including:
Multinational Human Rights Litigation in the UK: A Retrospective Business Human Rights Journal 22.6.21
Tort litigation against multi-national corporations City University of Hong Kong Law Review Volume 3:1 Fall 2011 pp 1–41
- Richard Meeran, ‘Access to remedy: The United Kingdom experience of MNC tort litigation for human rights violations’ in Surya Deva and David Bilchitz (eds.), Human Rights Obligations of Business: Beyond the Corporate Responsibility to Respect? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 378-402
Richard is a member of the Drafting Team of The Hague Rules on Business and Human Rights Arbitration. He is on the advisory board of Business and Human Rights Journal.
Richard Meeran in Conversation with Joe Fiorante QC
Richard Meeran (Partner and Head of Leigh Day’s International Department) will be in conversation with Canadian lawyer, Joe Fiorante QC, regarding multinational human rights litigation in Canada, particularly including the recent high-profile cases of Nevsun, Tahoe Resources and Hudbay Minerals.
Anglo American - Silicosis
In landmark cases pursued in South Africa, Leigh Day worked with South African lawyers for 4,388 former miners against Anglo American South Africa Ltd and AngloGold Ashanti