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1 Mai 2018

William Meade, CORE Coalition (UK)

Court of Appeal Decision Threatens to Close Route to Justice

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...CORE and 45 civil society organisations...wrote to urge the UK Supreme Court to allow two Nigerian fishing communities to appeal against a ruling that oil giant Shell cannot be held responsible for pipeline spills that have devastated the environment in the Niger Delta.  In February the Court of Appeal ruled (in Okpabi v Shell) that UK-based Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) was not responsible for oil pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary...The decision...is likely to have a chilling effect on similar cases...The...ruling must be reconsidered in the Supreme Court...At the Appeal Court hearing, the Claimants showed that RDS knew about the oil spills and the poor condition of the pipelines and infrastructure, but did nothing about it.  Despite this, the Court ruled that there was not enough proof that RDS managers had any control over Shell Nigeria...Bringing a claim in the UK against the parent company...offers one of the only routes to justice.  Yet unless the ruling in Okpabi v Shell is overturned in the Supreme Court, the decision threatens to make it near impossible to bring such cases...[T]he high evidential bar the Court imposed on the claimants to prove RDS control over its subsidiary will likely be carried over into future judgments...The Court also decided that international standards on corporate responsibility...are irrelevant to determining whether RDS had a responsibility to those affected by the pollution...This will create a perverse incentive for global companies not to improve respect for human rights and the environment throughout their business...

Part of the following timelines

UK: Appeal court rules Nigerian communities cannot pursue Shell in English courts over oil spills

NGOs urge UK Supreme Court to allow Nigerian communities to appeal decision that barred them from suing Shell in the UK over oil spill impacts

Shell lawsuit (re oil spills & Ogale & Bille communities in Nigeria - Okpabi v Shell)