Stephen Tromans QC, Karim Ghaly and Samar Abbas successfully defended the US-based 3M Company and its UK subsidiary, 3M United Kingdom PLC, in a claim brought by the States of Guernsey.
The case concerned the purchase, use and disposal of 3M’s firefighting foam by Guernsey. From 1976 to 1999, 3M UK sold 3M Co’s Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) to Guernsey, primarily for use at Guernsey and Alderney airports. In 2000, 3M announced a voluntary phase-out of the production of products containing certain perfluorochemicals (PFCs), including its AFFF product line – more than a decade ahead of many of its competitors and ahead of any legislation requiring such action.
Guernsey’s claim against 3M rested on allegations that the presence of PFCs in the environment had caused it to take remedial actions. 3M argued, inter alia, that there was no evidence of harm to the community and that it had acted responsibly in the production and sale of AFFF.
After 4 weeks of a 6-week trial before Leggatt J in the Commercial Court, Guernsey agreed to withdraw its claims against 3M as a result of evidence given at trial. The evidence demonstrated that 3M had acted responsibly in the production and sale of its AFFF products and that the presence of PFCs in Guernsey presented no harm to the community or the environment. Guernsey also agreed to make a substantial contribution towards 3M’s legal costs.
Stephen, Karim and Samar were instructed by the US-based Brewer Attorneys & Counselors and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
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