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Sutradhar v Natural Environment Research Council

A Bangladeshi suffering from arsenical poisoning had no reasonable prospect of success in an action against the Natural Environment Research Council for negligence arising from a geological report that, according to him, had induced the health authorities in Bangladesh not to take steps that would have ensured that his drinking water was not contaminated by arsenic.

14 July 2006

The appellant (S) appealed against a decision ([2004] EWCA Civ 175; [2004] PNLR 30) that his claim in negligence against the respondent research council (N) had no real prospect of succeeding. The British Geological Survey (B), a department of N, had prepared a report assessing the hydrochemical character of the main aquifer units of central and north-eastern Bangladesh and the possible toxicity of groundwater to fish and humans. For the purpose of the report, water samples had been tested for the presence of aluminium, iron, manganese and other elements. S, a Bangladeshi, had developed symptoms associated with arsenical poisoning. Tests of wells in the relevant areas revealed unsafe levels of arsenic in the water contained in those wells. In his statement of case, S had asserted that B had owed him a duty to test for arsenic or should not have issued a report that gave the impression that there was no arsenic. N argued that there was no arguable case that it was in a relationship o...

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