Tag Archives: BRITAIN

CARICOM, Reparations & Leigh Day

So why really have CARICOM Heads of States decided to solicit the legal services of a big British law form, Leigh Day, to represent their international legal claim for reparations for slavery against Britain and other European states?

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to see that CARICOM has finally taken up the reparations agenda and seems to be pushing forward with it. Although it is a government approach, and we all know what we can expect from most governments, I really want to make an effort not to be too sceptic and conspirary-theoretic in this case and just be glad to see that people’s power has brought about this situation where things are starting to move also on a inter-governmental level.

Still, the question does not leave me of what’s really up with CARICOM leaders signing up BRITISH law firm Leigh day to represent them in this most fundamental claim against BRITAIN.

So who is this law firm? Many of us will know that it is Leigh Day who recently successfully obtained compensation from Britain for more than 5,228 Mau Mau veterans in Kenya. And in that affair, they have not gone uncritized. One major point of that criticism has been that Leigh Day pocketed one third of the compensation amount they negotionated for their clients for themselves. The Law Society of Kenya asked the list of the Mau Mau veterans that the firm actually represent from Leigh Day. In class actions with many plaintiffs, this is current practice that serves transparency. Leigh Day refused to hand over the list, and there have been reports that people figure among those represented by Leigh Day who do not actually or no longer live. Which would mean even more than one third of the compensation sum actually remaining with Leigh Day.

Last but not least, voices have been raised that the 5,228 Mau Mau veterans represented by Leigh Day are only a fragment of the more than 50,000 living Mau Mau survivors organized in the Mau Mau War Veterans Association (MMWVA), meaning that no comprehensive reparations to the Mau Mau have yet been made by the British government. The bulk of it is still due. But they are now trying to close the case with this “victory” that Leigh Day reached.  The world now believes that justice has been done to the Mau Mau when they have really received only a fraction of what is due.

The question that poses itself now is: Are they trying to do the same with the Caribbean and global African reparations claim? Manouever it into a “reparations” “agreement” that would allow to publicly close the case for a cheap prize? According to Martyn Day, leading laywer at Leigh Day, this is what they are up to, to “seek a negotiated settlement with the governments of France, Britain and the Netherlands along the lines of the British agreement in June to issue a statement of regret and award compensation of about $21.5 million to the surviving Kenyans”.

It also seems strange to me that CARICOM has three lawyers of that law firm flown in from Britain, while Anthony Gifford, a legal pioneer in the field of reparations for slavery, sits in the Caribbean and has not even been invited.

In any case, I think it is significant that Leigh Day is a big law firm domiciled in BRITAIN. What interest would it really have in the attainment of the comprehensive reparations that are due by international law for transatlantic slavery and that would not only cost its nation massive financial ressources but also crush much of the exploitative structures that Britain still violently feeds upon to maintain her economy?

If we just answer that question honestly, we will know the essentials of what we need to know about Leigh Day and their involvment in the CARICOM reparations initiative.

Or what are you thinking about this?

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