Deadline Comes and Goes in the Lago Agrio Case
Posted on August 13, 2012
On July 30, the Ecuadoran court entered an order in the Lago Agrio case. There is no translation available yet, but according to a website affiliated with the plaintiffs, ChevronToxico, the order imposed an August 6 deadline on Chevron to deposit funds necessary to remediate the oil contamination for which the Ecuadoran court found Chevron liable. The August 6 deadline has come and gone, apparently without any action by Chevron. According to ChevronToxico, if Chevron defaults, the plaintiffs will be free to try to execute the judgment against whatever assets Chevron has in Ecuador.
I have noted before that Ecuador’s failure to suspend the operation of the Lago Agrio judgment seems to be a violation of its international commitments, even if the executive branch of Ecuador’s government can’t do anything to compel the judiciary to act. But that doesn’t affect the validity of the Ecuadoran court’s action purely as a matter of Ecuadoran law.
According to ChevronToxico, the Chevron assets in question are intangibles, including intellectual property rights and, interestingly, the award for money damages that Chevron obtained against Ecuador in a BIT arbitration and that Chevron is presently seeking to confirm in the District of Columbia. I note a pleasing symmetry: Chevron previously sought an attachment of the Lago Agrio judgment in New York to provide security against an eventual judgment in the RICO case against Donziger and some of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs. Both sides, in other words, are mounting (or planning to mount) interesting collateral attacks against judgments held by the other.1