UK: CORE & ICJ welcome landmark UK Supreme Court decision; Nigerian claimants can pursue environmental devastation allegations against Shell in UK courts
"CORE and ICJ welcome landmark UK Supreme Court decision - Nigerian claimants can pursue environmental devastation allegations against Shell in UK courts", 12 February 2021
Today (12 February 2021), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition UK welcome the judgment of the UK Supreme Court in the case Okpabi et al. v Royal Dutch Shell plc et al as a major step forward for those seeking access to justice for corporate abuses in the Niger Delta and around the world.
The Supreme Court judgment allows the case to proceed in the UK courts, reversing earlier decisions by the Court of Appeal and the High Court, and reaffirming the precedent established in its own previous decision in Lungowe et al v Vedanta Resources plc (2019).
Mark Dearn, Director of CORE, said:
“This landmark ruling is a vital step towards justice for some 50,000 claimants from the Ogale and Bille communities. It sends a clear message to multinational corporations like Shell - you have a duty of care and you will be held to account for human rights abuses and environmental damage caused by subsidiaries you control.
... Okpabi and other nearly 50,000 claimants in total - sued Royal Dutch Shell (RDS -the UK based parent company) and its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) for their alleged involvement in the leakage of oil pipelines which destroyed their farming land, wiped out fish stocks and poisoned drinking water in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.
In 2018 the Court of Appeal dismissed the claimants’ case, but the claimants appealed to the Supreme Court. The ICJ and the CORE Coalition intervened before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has allowed the claim to proceed, focusing on whether the claim had a real prospect of success and the high relevance of the internal company documents for a proper assessment.