Status: 02/12/2021 5:33 p.m.
Residents of the Niger Delta in Nigeria have accused oil company Shell of polluting the soil and water in the area. You can now sue the company in the UK.
Nigerian farmers and fishermen may sue Royal Dutch Shell, an oil company, for pollution in English courts. It was decided by the Supreme Court of Great Britain. More than 40,000 Nigerians have sued Shell in the UK, accusing their water of being polluted by oil pollution for decades.
Residents in London, where Shell is headquartered, filed the lawsuit. They justified this by saying that the Nigerian courts are very corrupt. Shell argued that the UK courts had no jurisdiction over the case and that the company was not responsible for the oil spill.
The process can point the way
This test carefully examines its fundamental importance in determining whether large companies can be sued for the activities of foreign subsidiaries in London. The Supreme Court ruled that Shell may have had an obligation to care for the plaintiffs regarding the actions of the Nigerian subsidiary.
Two lower courts have ruled that the parent company is not legally liable and that the case against Nigeria’s subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development should not be heard in British courts. However, this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Hope for those in the Niger Delta
Plaintiff’s attorney, Daniel Leader, said the ruling gave real hope to people in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. “This marks a turning point in the accountability of multinational corporations,” he said. Poor communities hold increasingly powerful corporate actors accountable, and judgment will greatly enhance that opportunity.
Shell began exploiting Nigeria’s large oil reserves in the late 1950s and has been the target of accusations from activists and residents over the oil spill.
Shell denies the allegations
Shell said the Supreme Court ruling was disappointing. Pollution in the Niger Delta is mainly caused by “criminal acts” such as sabotage and oil theft.
Two weeks ago, a Dutch appellate court ordered Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary to pay compensation to oil-polluted farmers in 2004 and 2005.