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Individual applications heard in appeal against silicosis class action suit

The South Gauteng High Court granted the mining companies leave to appeal against a finding amending the common law in respect of general damages claims.

It refused leave to appeal on the certification of silicosis and TB classes. The application for leave to appeal arose from a judgment delivered on 13 May 2016. The companies are considering the judgment.

The Working Group, made up of African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye Gold, still believes that achieving a mutually acceptable comprehensive settlement which is both fair to past, present and future employees, and sustainable for the sector, is preferable to protracted litigation.

Notwithstanding that the companies deny liability for the claims, the Working Group will continue with its efforts – which have been on-going for more than a year – to find common ground with stakeholders, including the claimants’ legal representatives.

The class certification judgment for miners with silicosis was handed down by the South Gauteng High Court on 13 May 2016. The Working Group does not believe that the legal processes should delay these efforts to find a fair and sustainable settlement.

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.

The Court itself found that the scope and magnitude of the proposed silicosis 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 companies await the decision of the court.