Nigeria Claims against Shell Dismissed by Court

Law firm Leigh Day, representing over 40,000 Nigerians, has failed in a bid to have pollution compensation claims against Shell enforced by the English courts. But the law firm has said it plans to appeal to the Court of Appeal in London.

The English High Court in London January 26 decided that both parent company Shell and its Nigerian affiliate SPDC succeeded in having the oil spill claims against them in England dismissed. Mr Justice Fraser sitting in the Technology & Construction Court, part of the High Court, gave the ruling.

Igo Weli, SPDC’s general manager for external relations, said: “The court rightly decided these claims should be dealt with by the Nigerian courts and confirmed longstanding principles of corporate law, which are critically important for multinational companies headquartered in the UK.”

Leigh Day was granted permission in November to bring the case to the High Court on behalf of 2,335 individuals from the Bille kingdom and some 40,000 in the Ogale community, both in Nigeria. Oil spills in the Ogale area were documented by the UN Environment Programme in its 2011 report.

UNEP sampling in Ogoniland, 2011 (Photo credit: UN Environmental Programme)

Daniel Leader, the Leigh Day lawyer representing the communities, said after the latest ruling: "The Ogale and Bille communities are surprised by this Judgement and have instructed us to lodge an appeal.  It is our view that the judgment failed to consider critical evidence which shows the decisive direction and control Royal Dutch Shell exercises over its Nigerian subsidiary.  It is also inconsistent with recent judgements of the European Court of Justice and the Dutch Court of Appeal."


Mark Smedley




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