Since 1984, there has been a compensation scheme for American veterans exposed to chemicals and having developed a pathology recognized as being related to exposure to dioxin. This is not the case for the Vietnamese victims. What is the stake of this trial?
William bourdon The origin of compensation for American veterans is strictly limited to veterans of American nationality. It constitutes a precedent which has been useful to us but obviously it cannot be regarded as having universal legal effects. Regarding the Vietnamese victims, or rather Franco-Vietnamese like our client, the stakes of this trial are considerable, on the judicial, symbolic and historical levels. It is the only trial ever initiated, if not an unsuccessful attempt in South Korea, by a person who contracted specific pathologies in connection with the spreading.
Did the firms try to obstruct the procedure?
William bourdon The firms, as in all major files with strong reputational, legal and financial stakes, use all possible and imaginable means, not to prevent the lawsuit – they cannot -, but to oppose all the arguments tending to bring to justice. that the action of our client is inadmissible, ill-founded. A considerable volume of paperwork has been taken by the firms to which we have answered each time, in particular on the question of immunity and prescription. To obtain satisfaction, there is therefore to hope that the tribunal will sweep away these arguments one by one, that is to say whether the task is heavy and our responsibility important.
Some of these companies clear their way by returning the responsibility to the “principal” for the production of defoliant, namely the US government. Is this admissible?
William bourdon The argument is classic. We firmly oppose it by relying on provisions of national, European and international law. There are many examples in history where multinationals have tried to impose “the act of the prince” or force majeure, considering that they must be irresponsible on the grounds that they were only obeying a political order. . We are rather confident since the law has rather evolved in favor of increased accountability of private actors including when they claim to have acted at the instigation of the executive power.