The plaintiffs represented some 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorian villagers who had sought redress for environmental harms allegedly suffered as a result of Texaco's former exploration and extraction activities in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador. Texaco subsequently merged with Chevron, a U.S. Corporation with a Canadian subsidiary, Chevron Canada. Ultimately, the Ecuadorian Court awarded damages of $9.51 billion U.S. The plaintiffs commenced an action for recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice when they could obtain no satisfaction of their judgment in Ecuador or the U.S. They served Chevron at its head office in California and Chevron Canada in both B.C. and in Ontario. Both the parent and subsidiary sought orders setting aside service of the statement of claim declaring that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the action.
On September 4, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the lower court's acceptance of jurisdiction while leaving open the question of whether the action for recognition and enforcement would succeed. The Court said:
(at Par. 3) "...Jurisdiction to recognize and enforce a foreign judgment within Ontario exists by virtue of the debtor being served on the basis of the outstanding debt resulting from the judgment. This is the case for Chevron. Jurisdiction also exists here with respect to Chevron Canada because it was validly served at a place of business it operates in the province. On the traditional jurisdictional grounds, this is sufficient to find jurisdiction...(at par. 27).... this Court has rightly never imposed a requirement to prove a real and substantial connection between the defendant or the dispute and the province in actions to recognize and enforce foreign judgments.... (at par.89) ...Chevron Canada has elected to establish and continue to operate a place of business in Mississauga, Ontario, at which it was served. It should therefore have expected that it might one day be called upon to answer to an Ontario court’s request that it defend against an action. If a defendant maintains a place of business in Ontario, it is reasonable to say that the Ontario courts have an interest in the defendant and the disputes in which it becomes involved.. (at par. 94) ...A finding of jurisdiction does nothing more than afford the plaintiffs the opportunity to seek recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment. Once past the jurisdictional stage, Chevron Canada, like Chevron, can use the available procedural tools to try to dispose of the plaintiffs' allegations...."
For full decision go to: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/15497/index.do