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2 Feb 2023

Leigh Day

Over 13,000 residents from the Ogale and Bille communities in Nigeria file claims against Shell for devastating oil spills

The group claims register confirms that 11,317 people and 17 institutions (including churches and schools) from Ogale are seeking compensation for loss of livelihoods and damage against the oil giant. These claims are in addition to the 2,335 Bille individual claims which were issued at the High Court in 2015...

The communities have had their way of life devastated by the spills and are asking for Shell to clean up their oil and compensate them for their loss of livelihoods as their ability to farm and fish has been largely destroyed.

The claims which have now been filed provide detail as to the nature of the harm the residents of Ogale and Bille have suffered and continue to suffer. In 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland reported, after a three-year detailed study, how the Ogoni people were exposed to severe oil contamination on a daily basis, impacting their water sources, air quality, and farmland. UNEP recommended that urgent steps should be taken to ensure the largest terrestrial clean-up operation in history and found that there was “an immediate danger to public health". Shockingly, 12 years on, the communities remain polluted, no clean-up has occurred and their residents are still drinking from poisoned wells...

Now the group register has been filed at court, the next stage in the case is for a case management hearing to be set in Spring 2023, ahead of the full trial which is likely to occur the following year.

The Bille and Ogale communities have been engaged in litigation with Shell since 2015. On 12 February 2021, the UK Supreme Court unanimously ruled that there was “a good arguable case” that Shell plc, the UK parent company, was legally responsible for systemic pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary, SPDC. The case is now proceeding to trial to determine whether Shell’s parent company in London, as well as its Nigerian subsidiary SDPC, is legally responsible for the harm caused to the communities in Nigeria...

Since the Supreme Court hearing in 2021 Shell has filed its legal Defence to the claims in which they argue that it has no legal liability for any of the pollution...