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UK law firm advises Caribbean reparations committee

Lawyers from leigh Day advise CARICOM on potential legal case against Great Britain, Netherlands and France over legacy of slavery

Posted on 26 July 2013

Law firm Leigh Day has confirmed that it has been approached by the leaders of more than a dozen Caribbean countries to consider a legal challenge to seek compensation from three European nations for what they claim is the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade.

Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) is creating a Reparations Commission to challenge the governments of Britain, France and the Netherlands for the lingering effect of slavery.

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, one of the CARICOM countries, told the Associated Press that the legacy of slavery includes poverty and the lack of development that characterizes most of the region.

Mr Gonsalves added that any settlement should include a formal apology. "The apology is important but that is wholly insufficient," he told The Associated Press. "We have to have appropriate recompense."

Martyn Day from UK law firm Leigh Day, who fought successfully for compensation from the British Government for hundreds of Kenyans tortured by the British colonial government during the Kenyan Emergency in the 1950’s said:

“At this early stage the CARICOM Governments have asked us to advise them on the bringing of a legal claim against the British, French and Dutch governments if they cannot reach a negotiated settlement.

“What is an important factor in this potential legal action is that CARICOM is interested in seeking a settlement for the impact of slavery on their communities today- not on the historic position of the individual slaves.”

“The next step will be a meeting in September of the CARICOM countries when we will be looking to set out the claim and following that make contact with the three European Governments involved.”