The fight from South Africa’s gold miners against a class action suit for miners with silicosis is on as they look to find a fair settlement for both parties.

The Occupational Lung Disease Working Group; made up of African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye Gold, confirm that the companies have filed individual applications to appeal against the class certification judgment handed down by the South Gauteng High Court on 13 May 2016.

On that day the Court approved a class action suit seeking damages from the gold mining sector. The class action suit will represent thousands of miners who contracted the fatal lung disease silicosis while working underground.

It stretches back decades and includes non-South African miners who contracted the disease at the time.

According to the Working Group, the judgment addresses a number of highly complex and important issues, including a far reaching amendment of the common law, that have not previously been considered by other courts in South Africa.

[quote]The Court itself found that the scope and magnitude of the proposed claims is unprecedented in South Africa and that the class action would address novel and complex issues of fact and law.

The companies are applying for leave to appeal because they believe that the court’s ruling on some of these issues is incorrect and that another court may come to a different decision.

The judgment in respect of certification of the class action – and the appeals – do not deal with the merits of the claims made against the companies.

The Working Group does not believe that the legal processes should delay the attempts to expeditiously achieve a comprehensive settlement which is both fair to past, present and future employees, and sustainable for the sector.

Whilst the companies deny liability for the claims, it is nonetheless the Working Group’s view that a fair and sustainable settlement is preferable to long and protracted litigation.

It is with this in mind that discussions, which have been proceeding for more than a year, are continuing with claimants’ representatives.