On 31 August 2018 Maurice Blackburn filed a class action on behalf of shareholders of BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and BHP Billiton Plc (listed on the Johannesburg and London stock exchanges) who suffered losses due to the share price fall following the Fundão Dam collapse on 5 November 2015.
The class action covers eligible shareholders who entered into a contract to acquire an interest in ordinary shares on any of the three above mentioned stock exchanges between 27 August 2014 and 9 November 2015 inclusive.
Maurice Blackburn is Australia's leading class action law firm, and the only Australian law firm to have obtained settlements in excess of $100 million in shareholder and listed securities class actions — an achievement we have accomplished seven times now.
In late 2018, the Federal Court of Australia delivered its judgment on how it would manage the three competing class actions issued against BHP Billiton Ltd. The Court ordered that the proceeding we are conducting on behalf of Klemweb Nominees Pty Ltd (Klemweb Proceeding) be permanently stayed. Shortly after, we appealed that decision.
On 27 May 2019, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia heard our appeal. Our appeal was successful on several grounds and the Full Court:
- Set aside the order staying the Klemweb Proceeding;
- Allowed our appeal on several grounds, including that an error was made in preferring the funding arrangements in a competing proceeding (Impiombato Proceeding) over the no-win no-fee (NWNF) model offered in the Klemweb Proceeding, despite a finding that NWNF would likely result in a higher percentage of any settlement or judgment sum being available for distribution to group members;
- Dismissed the appeal lodged in another competing proceeding (LACERA Proceeding).
The Full Court has ordered that our client Klemweb confer with Impiombato and its legal representatives to consider whether we can agree to a joint proposal to consolidate the proceedings. By 13 June 2019, we were required to either provide the Court with orders implementing an agreed joint proposal or notify it that a joint proposal has not been agreed.
Following conferral, the parties agreed to a joint proposal to consolidate the proceedings.
On 21 June 2019, the Full Court handed down its reasons for the appeal decision and have endorsed the general proposal to consolidate subject to further clarification of the consolidation model to be adopted.
A further update will be provided following any consolidation orders made by the Full Court.
The Germano mine complex in Minas Gerais, Brazil is operated by Samarco Mineração S.A, a joint venture between BHP Ltd and Vale S.A.
On 5 November 2015, the Fundão tailings dam at the Germano mine collapsed and released a mudflow that killed 19 people and caused catastrophic damage to downstream communities and the environment.
The dam collapse is considered one of the largest environmental disasters to have ever occurred in Brazil. It released approximately 50 million tonnes of mining waste which travelled some 600 kilometres to the Atlantic Ocean, causing extensive damage as it went.
BHP is one of Australia’s largest ASX-listed companies. Following the dam collapse, BHP’s share price plunged approximately 20% between 6 November 2015 and 30 November 2015.
The class action alleges that BHP failed to comply with its continuous disclosure obligations under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the ASX Listing Rules and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.
For any queries, call Maurice Blackburn on 1800 931 970 (Toll Free AU) or +61 3 9605 2892 or email us at BHPclassaction@mauriceblackburn.com.au.