Chevron, Corporations and the Law Versus Life and Lives

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1683 ... October 9, 2018

Chevron, Corporations and the Law Versus Life and Lives

Harry Glasbeek

The decision in Yaiguaje v. Chevron Corporation by the Ontario Court of Appeal denied justice owed to some 30,000 Ecuadorian people grievously harmed by profiteering oil companies. The story is an example of how the routine application of formality in law, accompanied by the pulverization of the dispute’s setting, is designed to benefit the truly rich and astonishingly evil.

When a court pronounces on a dispute, we expect the parties to accept the decision because we believe it will have been made by independent judges who apply pre-existing principles and criteria in an even-handed manner. The pre-existing principles are deemed to reflect social norms, values and needs. But, all too often, this ideal... picture of the justice system fails to hold true. It does so when the principles on which a court hinges its decision do not make sense. In the Chevron litigation, the principles of corporate law were treated as if they were holy script. They should not have been. The fraught nature of the justice system also stems, in part, from the peculiar methodology used by the judiciary. It takes disputes out of their political, social, economic and cultural settings. Law and justice fail as the process pulverizes reality and the social relations in which the controversy arises are ignored.

In a capitalist society, adherence to formalistic corporate law and the ignoring of its social context combine to privilege the status quo, that is, to favour capitalists.

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