Petroleum Co of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd v Ryan [2017] UKPC 30


The Privy Council allowed the petroleum company’s appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal of Trinidad & Tobago, restoring the High Court decision of Rajkumar J. dismissing personal injury claims based on allegations that hydrocarbon emissions from a disused oil well had caused respiratory illnesses. The appeal raised issues as to the appropriate test of causation in such cases, whether the Court of Appeal had been entitled to reverse findings of fact made by the trial judge, and whether there was sufficient evidence to support their conclusions. Since no link had been established between the emissions and the damage claimed, the Board held that it was not possible to apply a flexible approach to causation on policy grounds taking into account public awareness of environmental issues and the responsibilities of polluters.

Romie Tager QC acted for the successful appellant.