Accessibility Links

Calais: a story of migrants and lawyers?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 16/09/15

No matter where you are in the world, one news story which you will not have missed is Europe’s current migrant crisis. Men, women and children from a number of war-torn and impoverished countries have been making their way across the seas to follow promises of a better, safer life, with the majority choosing Europe as their end destination.

For many, the situation at the French port of Calais has unravelled into a series of very interesting events. Much disruption has come to both lorry drivers and Eurotunnel users seeking to cross over from France to the UK as migrants endeavour to do the same. But this has had huge repercussions on business – and many are now seeking legal action.

Every year, 2.5million vehicles transport British goods worth over £200bn between Dover and Calais. However, this year alone, £2.5m worth of drugs bound for NHS hospitals have been abandoned due to contamination, and up to £10 million worth of food. On top of this, hundreds of haulage and freight firms have lost contracts, had their goods spoilt and suffered damage to their reputations, and the Road Haulage Association confirmed it has lost up to £60 million in the past few weeks alone.

Unsurprisingly, threats have been made by a large number of companies to sue. But who can they sue when the migrant themselves cannot be reached? Well, one French law, dating from 1983, states that any damage arising from a violent or non-violent gathering is the responsibility of the state – and so the finger of blame is turning towards France itself.

However, the plot thickens. In the wake of disruption to the Channel Tunnel, and the possibility that the Government will shut down overnight services, Eurotunnel is threatening to sue the UK government for £200m. This will act as compensation for both their losses and any tarnish to their reputation caused by panic amongst customers and investors. But after nine migrant deaths in the tunnel itself, it seems as though there is no other option than to take more safety measures.

So it looks as though the northern European legal sector is about to undergo an expansive process of suing within all industries. It looks to be an interesting and ongoing story – keep your eyes on the news.