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Barrick Gold - North Mara mine

London Bullion Market Association drops challenge to groundbreaking human rights claim proceeding in UK Court

London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) has withdrawn its jurisdiction challenge to a landmark human rights claim proceeding in the UK courts.

Posted on 17 June 2024

The claimants, families of two men who were killed at the North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania by security forces, allege the LBMA repeatedly wrongly certified gold sourced from the notorious mine as being free from serious human rights abuses. 

LBMA made an application to persuade the UK courts to refuse to hear the case by arguing that Tanzania would be a more appropriate place than England for the case to be heard.  This is despite the fact that the LBMA is a British organisation and victims of human rights abuse in Tanzania have extreme difficulty accessing justice in Tanzanian courts – especially when the allegations relate to police violence. LBMA’s application reflects a practice by which corporations seek to delay and block international human rights legal claims.  

LBMA’s application, known as a “forum non conveniens” application, was filed in August 2023 with a hearing listed for June 2024. However, just five weeks before the hearing, LBMA confirmed it was withdrawing the application.   

Now that LBMA has abandoned its jurisdiction challenge, Leigh Day will bring the case in London’s High Court on behalf of the families of two 23-year-old Tanzanian nationals who were killed on the North Mara Gold Mine by Tanzanian security forces. The mine is known as one of the deadliest in Africa, with at least 77 deaths and 304 woundings by police and security guards being reported between 2006-2023, and more deaths being reported in 2024. 

The legal case will focus on determining whether a certification body can be held legally responsible for a reportedly flawed certification process which allows gold allegedly tainted by human rights abuses to be traded the London markets, thus contributing to human rights violations.   

LBMA oversees the London gold market; the largest in the world with approximately US$230 billion of gold being traded in London each week.  All gold traded in London must be certified by the LBMA as being ‘good delivery’, which means being responsibly sourced and untainted by serious human rights abuses. The Claimants’ claim relates to LBMA’s certification of gold from the mine as Good Delivery despite its alleged human rights record. The Claimants allege that the mine would have been forced to put a stop to the human rights abuses and their relatives would still be alive had LBMA enforced its own Responsible Sourcing Programme properly.   

In response to Leigh Day’s legal claim, which was filed in the High Court in December 2022 and served in August 2023, LBMA argued that the case should be heard in a Tanzanian court which delayed legal proceedings by nearly a year.  

Now that the application is withdrawn, the claim is proceeding towards a trial.  

The legal claim against LBMA is being led by Leigh Day partner Daniel Leader and Senior Associate Solicitor Alex Wessely. 

Daniel Leader said: 

“This case will test for the first time whether a certification body can be held legally responsible for a flawed certification process which is said to have greenwashed human rights abuses.  The victims need to know why this was allowed to happen and look forward to the case proceeding next year.” 

Alex Wessely said: 

“Our clients are pleased that they will get their day in Court to seek justice for the deaths of their relatives. It is a shame that the LBMA has wasted almost 10 months pursuing this application, only to drop it at the 11th hour, but I am very pleased that the litigation is now back on track.” 

News Article
Barrick Gold - North Mara mine
Mining International

Legal action served against LBMA following alleged human rights abuses at Tanzanian gold mine

A legal case has been served on the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) alleging that it is wrongly certifying gold from a mine in Africa as being free from serious human rights abuses. The LBMA oversees the vast London gold market, the largest in the world.

Daniel Leader
Corporate accountability Diesel emissions claims Environment Group claims Human rights International litigation

Daniel Leader

International human rights, business human rights and corporate accountability lawyer

Alex Wessely
Corporate accountability Diesel emissions claims Group claims

Alex Wessely

Alex Wessely is a senior associate solicitor in the international department.