We did it! Japanese whaling company fined $1 million in contempt proceedings

By EDO NSW Principal Solicitor Sue Higginson

18 November 2015

Today we have a ruling that Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd (Kyodo) is in contempt of Court and has been fined $1 million.  EDO NSW has been representing Humane Society International (HSI) since 2004 in its ongoing legal battle to bring an end to whaling in Australian waters.


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We have just proved in the Federal Court of Australia that Kyodo is in contempt of the Federal Court for killing whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in the Antarctic. 

EDO NSW has spent the past 11 years helping HSI fight through the courts to prevent Kyodo from killing whales in Australian waters. In 2008 we were successful in getting an injunction in the Federal Court of Australia that said Japan is not to kill whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary. 

But Japan didn’t comply with that injunction, and continued what it described as 'scientific' whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary between 2008 and 2013. 

In 2014, the International Court of Justice declared Japan’s ‘scientific’ whaling illegal.

HSI was convinced that the International Court of Justice would resolve the matter once and for all.

But despite this international court ruling, the Japanese Government has indicated it will continue to allow Japanese companies to hunt whales in Antarctic waters. Whaling is set to start next month.

HSI did not embark on this journey lightly. The law of contempt is very serious. It is the wilful disregard or disrespect for the authority of a court of law. In this case the Federal Court of Australia. In a country where the rule of law is essential for peace, order and good governance such breaches of Court Orders ought to be enforced. HSI Campaign Director Michael Kennedy said, "We are eternally grateful for, EDO’s legal support, and could not imagine undertaking such an effort without them."

It is ironic that on the same day the Court handed down this decision, the Coalition members of the Senate Environment Committee released a report supporting the Government’s Bill to remove extended standing for environment groups to access the courts.

EDO NSW is committed to defending the environment from harm, wherever that harm may come from. If you’d like to help us to continue to bring cases to protect the environment, you can support our Environmental Defence Fund.

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