In Bravo & Ors v Amerisur Resources Ltd (Re The Amerisur plc Putumayo Group Litigation)  EWHC 122 (KB) claimants, who live in remote rural communities in the Putumayo region of Colombia, seek damages from the defendant pursuant to the Colombian Civil Code, and in reliance on Colombia Decree 321/1999, in respect of environmental pollution caused by a spill (or spills) of crude oil on 11 June 2015. The claimants’ two causes of action are pleaded under the headings (i) guardianship of a dangerous activity and (ii) negligence. It is common ground between the parties that the oil spillage was the result of deliberate acts by terrorist organisation, FARC.
Steyn J yesterday held on preliminary issues, including statute of limitation. Defendant contends that the two year limitation period provided by relevant Colombian law re Colombian group actions (‘Law 472’), applies to the claim. Parties agree that in substance, Colombian law is lex causae per A4 and A7 Rome II.
Claimants rely on two points of English law and one of Colombian law. First, they contend that the relevant Article of Law 472 is a procedural provision within the meaning of A1(3) Rome II, and therefore it falls outside the scope of Rome II. I believe they are right but the judge did not. Secondly, they refute the defendant’s contention that this action should be treated as a group action under Law 472. Thirdly, even if they are wrong on both those points, they submit that application of the time limit of Law 472 would be inconsistent with English public policy, and so the court should refuse to apply it pursuant to A26 Rome II.
All but one links to case-law in this post refer to my discussion of same on the blog, with pieces of course further linking to the judgment. Apologies for the pat on my own back but it is nice to see that all but one (Vilca, where parties essentially agreed on the Rome II issue) of the cases referred to in the judgment all feature on the blog.
For claimants, Alexander Layton KC referred to Wall v Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurances and Actavis UK Ltd & ors v Eli Lilly and Co (where the issues were discussed obiter). Defendants rely on Vilca v Xstrata Ltd  EWHC 27 (QB), KMG International NV v Chen  EWHC 2389 (Comm), Pandya v Intersalonika General Insurance Co SA  EWHC 273 (QB),  ILPr 44 and Johnson v Berentzen  EWHC 1042 (QB).
My reception of the High Court’s conclusions in KMG, Pandya, and Johnson was not enthusiastic, and in my review of Pandya in particular I also suggest that the same scholarship relied on in this case, did not actually lend support to the defendant’s arguments, and I stand by that, too.
Hence Steyn J’s conclusion  that Article 15 Rome II
contains a list of matters which are ‘in particular’ to fall under the designated law, irrespective of whether they would be classified as matters of substance or procedure
that the provisions of article 15 of Rome II should be construed widely
in my view is wrong. (Note the linguistic analysis in  will be of interest to readers interested in authentic interpretation of multi-lingual statutes).
 The key question then is which Colombian limitation period applies to these English proceedings, which brings the judge to discuss  ff ia Iraqi Civilians v Ministry of Defence (No.2). Here the judge, after discussing Colombian law evidence, holds 
that this action has not been brought under Law 472, and it does not fall to be treated as if it had been brought as a Colombian group action. Therefore, this action is not time-barred pursuant to article 47 of Law 472.
Hence claimants lost the argument on Rome II’s procedural exception but won the argument on application of Colombian law.
 ff whether the limitation rule should be disapplied pursuant to A26 Rome II is discussed obiter and summarily, with reference of course to Begum v Maran which I discuss here. The judge holds A26’s high threshold would not be met.
Both parties have reason to appeal, and one wonders on which parts of Rome II, permission to appeal will be sought.
EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, ia para 4.80.