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Katharina Theil

Senior associate solicitor

Katharina Theil is a senior associate solicitor in the international department.

Corporate accountability

Katharina is a senior associate solicitor assisting Richard Meeran in the international department.

Katharina has worked at Leigh Day since 2012, and as a solicitor in the international department since 2019, specialising in international environmental and human rights claims against companies. Katharina has a special interest in climate change litigation and claims arising from labour exploitation. 

Legal expertise

Since joining Leigh Day, Katharina has worked on various cases:

  • Kabwe & Others v Anglo American South Africa Limited. A class action against Anglo American South Africa Ltd filed in the Johannesburg High Court on behalf of Zambian communities living in the vicinity of the Kabwe lead mine who are suffering from lead poisoning (working with Richard Meeran and South African attorney Zanele Mbuyisa);
  • Andre Bravo and others v Amerisur Resources Ltd. A claim on behalf of members of remote communities living in southern Colombia in relation oil pollution, which was settled on a confidential basis without admission of liability;
  • Claims by Iraqi civilians against the Ministry of Defence;
  • Several claims on behalf of child survivors of sexual abuse overseas, both against British individuals directly and in vicarious liability against their employers, including a claim on behalf of a group of children who were sexually abused by a British Airways pilot. British Airways settled the claim whilst denying liability;
  • A group litigation against Shell on behalf of Nigerian fishermen and women living in the Niger Delta arising from the loss and damage caused by two major oil spills;  
  • A case brought by over 5,000 Kenyans who alleged that they were subjected to torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of the British colonial administration in the 1950’s during the Kenyan struggle for independence (Mau Mau claims).

Katharina trained in the medical negligence department assisting Claire Fazan and the international department assisting Richard Meeran and Martyn Day. She also completed a six-month secondment at Amnesty International’s International Secretariat. As a trainee, Katharina was involved in the case of Antuzis & others v DJ Houghton Catching Services & others, a claim on behalf of Lithuanian men arising from allegations of modern slavery. In April 2019, the High Court handed down a landmark judgment in favour of the claimants on the issue of personal liability of the director and company secretary.
At Amnesty International, Katharina assisted the In-house Legal and Strategic Litigation teams on a variety of work and cases, including on litigation pending before the European Court of Human Rights and ECOWAS Court.
Katharina also holds an LLM from SOAS, University of London, and an undergraduate degree in International Relations. She speaks German and French.

Prior to joining Leigh Day, Katharina was a Carlo Schmid fellow interning with the International Labour Organisation’s International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as a Roland Algrant Intern at Human Rights Watch, where she helped prepare a report on Child Labour in Artisanal Gold Mining in Mali.

Public speaking

  • The Leigh Day/Earthlife and Ministry of Justice of Namibia NGO Workshop: Holding Multinationals to Account for Human Rights Abuses and Environmental Damage. December 2020
  • Human Rights in Asia Conference, Essex University 2018 
Blog Post
Deep Sea Mining
International Environmental Damage Environment

Seabed mining and the accountability gap

Katharina Theil and Melissa Rahbar from Leigh Day’s international department discuss the need for a strong accountability regime for damage caused by seabed mining in light of the potential risks to the marine environment.

Blog Post
Blind justice
Human rights day International

Do companies’ stated human rights commitments play any role in holding them to account?

Following this year’s International Human Rights Day, Katharina Theil, Ella Kennedy and Danny Holroyde, from the international department, look at the interplay between companies’ stated human rights commitments and accountability for corporate human rights abuse overseas.

Blog Post
International climate COP27

COP27 and beyond: Financing Loss and Damage from Climate Change

Katharina Theil, solicitor and trainee Sarah Gibbons, in the international team, discuss the calls to provide financial assistance to address loss and damage, a key agenda item in the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, as well as other legal routes in the fight for climate justice.