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When – after decades of litigation resulting from allegations of environmental damage in Ecuador – Chevron Corp. brought a motion seeking a dismissal of the action against it, the plaintiffs had had enough and consented to the dismissal. But it was a rocky road, pebbled with questions of the relationship between parent companies and their distant subsidiaries.

Success in Yaiguaje v. Chevron Corporation – which pitted Ecuadorean villagers alleging environmental degradation against the multinational energy corporation – depended on piercing the “corporate veil” and undermining the principle of corporate separateness, a mainstay of the common law since 1896. Could a US$9.5-billion Ecuadorean judgment against Chevron be enforced by seizing shares and assets of its seventh-level subsidiary, Chevron Canada Ltd.?

Lexpert contributor Julius Melnitzer interviewed a slate of Canadian litigators to report on how the case wended its way through the courts – and appeals – to a final decision.

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