Why was a legal action brought against TotalEnergies?
While TotalEnergies claims to be “committed” to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, the measures taken by the multinational are still not in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
In January 2020, Sherpa and a coalition of NGOs and local authorities took TotalEnergies to court after having formally served notice to the company. Sherpa, Amnesty International France, France Nature Environnement, Notre Affaire à Tous, ZEA, les Eco Maires and 16 local authorities request the judge to order the oil company to take the necessary measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions consistently with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, in accordance with the Law on the Duty of Vigilance of March 27, 2017 and with the French Civil code provisions on ecological damage.
The procedure was initially delayed by Total, which unsuccessfully challenged the jurisdiction of the judicial court in favour of the commercial court, a court composed of company directors and dealing with business-related disputes. In 2022, the case was assigned to a judge of the Paris judicial court, responsible for deciding on certain procedural issues as well as events that could end the trial before the court’s decision.
Sherpa recalls that any person accused or prosecuted by a national or international jurisdiction is presumed innocent until found guilty by a final court decision. In this respect, an appealable decision does not constitute a final decision.
Sherpa, with a coalition of local authorities and NGO sent a formal notice to TotalEnergies, requesting the multinational to comply with its obligations under the Law on the Duty of Vigilance of March 27, 2017 and the provisions of the French Civil code on ecological damage.
Lawsuit before the Nanterre civil court
Sherpa, Notre Affaire à Tous, ZEA, Eco Maires, France Nature Environnement and the city of Arcueil, Bayonne, Bègles, Bize-Minervois, Centre Val de Loire, Champneuville, Correns, Est-Ensemble Grand Paris, Grenoble, La Possession, Mouans-Sartoux, Nanterre, Sevran and Vitry-le-François take TotalEnergies to court. Find out more.
First victory on the judicial court’s jurisdiction
Transfer of the case to the Paris civil court
The case is transferred to the Paris judicial court in application of the law of December 22, 2021 which give exclusive jurisdiction to this court over cases based on the Duty of vigilance law.
The coalition announced appealing the Paris judicial court ruling.