Verdict postponed in Transocean vs Greenpeace

| 26th March 2020
Greenpeace supporters outside Edinburgh's Court of Session

Greenpeace supporters outside Edinburgh's Court of Session
Greenpeace is facing unlimited fines for contempt of court, while its executive director could be jailed.

The reason we took action was to protect our planet, and to help prevent a climate emergency.

The verdict in a court battle between Greenpeace and BP’s oil rig operator Transocean has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Transocean bought the case against the campaign group after some of its activists occupied a North Sea oil rig for twelve days last summer. The activists were attempting to stop the oil giant drilling new wells in the Vorlich Fields, where it is planning to extract up to 30 million barrels of oil over the next 20-30 years.

The rig operator accused the organisation of contempt of court for breaching an interim interdict – the Scottish version of an injunction to stop the protest.


It had asked the Edinburgh’s Court of Session, where the case was heard, to make an example of Greenpeace, warning that soft penalties would send the message that such actions were justified even when the court had ruled they should not take place. This would be dangerous ahead of the Glasgow climate talks, he argued.

In response, Greenpeace argued that its actions were justified since BP’s plans were fuelling the climate emergency.

The campaign group faces unlimited fines if it loses the case, while its executive director John Sauven faces two years in jail. Sauven said: “The reason we took action was to protect our planet, and to help prevent a climate emergency. That threat has not gone away.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service said that due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the Court of Session was dealing with urgent business only until further notice. 

This Author

Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for the Ecologist. She can be found tweeting at @Cat_Early76.

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