Students Staff

05 March 2012

Ecocide hearing to be staged at Essex

Colchester Campus

The Chief Executives of two fictional oil companies will be sentenced at the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution at the University of Essex on Saturday 31 March, for major environmental destruction, in a world-first legal process.

Top lawyers, including Michael Mansfield QC will take part in the mock sentencing which follows a mock trial at the UK Supreme Court last September where the two CEOs were found guilty of the crime of ecocide, a new law that has been proposed to the United Nations covering mass destruction of ecosystems. The law itself would be revolutionary, imprisonment would be the last resort, the punishment would focus on deterring organisations from committing the crime again.

This sentencing is also unique in bringing the head of a corporation face to face with those affected by their company’s destructive practices, including representatives speaking on behalf of birds and other natural life, in this case based on real-world oil extraction in the Canadian tar sands.

One of the two fictional CEOs, Robert Bannerman, has admitted responsibility for his crimes, since being found guilty and will take part in a process called restorative justice. Through dialogue the restorative meeting will attempt to find a positive way forward to repair the harm caused – accepting business has a responsibility but going beyond simply fines or a prison sentence.

The other oil company Chief Executive, John Tench, has refused to admit to his crime and will be sentenced in the normal way.

Lawrence Kershen, Chair of the Restorative Justice Council, will facilitate the process. “One of these individuals has now accepted responsibility for what his company did, and he and the victims have agreed to have a dialogue. I hope that this restorative justice process will offer ways to address corporate crimes by bringing all the parties together and seeking to repair the harm done to the victims.”

Simon Hamilton, Chairman of the Hamilton Group, co-organisers of the event, said:”The mock trial at the Supreme Court allowed a forensic examination of how the law of ecocide would work in practice and proved that this proposed law is valid.”

Professor Todd Landman, Director at the Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution (IDCR), also co-organising the event, added: “The IDCR is excited to host this event and to show how the process of restorative justice can serve as a model for resolving conflicts between multinational corporations and the wide range of their victims. At a time when the world is demanding more accountability for corporations, this provides a great example of how restorative justice works.”

The public are invited to attend and it will be broadcast live online at There will be a series of debates and speakers discussing the issues raised in the restorative justice process. The hearing itself will take place after representations by Prosecuting Barrister Michael Mansfield QC and Defence Barrister Adam Hiddlestone to the Judge.

Notes to Editors

After the sentencing, a press conference will be held, provisionally scheduled for 17.00 at this event and online through a live video link.

For press enquiries please contact: IDCR at the University of Essex: 01206 872400 or

Hamilton Group: Simon 382275

Eradicating Ecocide campaign: Joe Halljoe@eradicatingecocide.com07946 541936

On September 30 2011 the first mock ecocide trial took place at the UK Supreme Court in London. The trial proved that the proposed new law of ecocide, put forward by environmental lawyer Polly Higgins, is fundamental in addressing environmental issues on a global scale. An international law of ecocide would make CEOs and Heads of State legally responsible for the Earth.

The Hamilton Group, which organised the ecocide mock trial and is co-organising the ecocide sentencing, is a not-for-profit organisation encouraging businesses, organisations and communities to bring responsibility for the Earth to the forefront of their decision-making.

The IDCR works on forging and maintaining sustainable democratic institutions. It works to prevent and resolve, through academic analysis, training, outreach and knowledge exchange across a wide range of issue areas. Its mission is to provide high quality and practical knowledge for all actors and stakeholders working to develop peaceful solutions for governing the world.

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