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12 Feb 2024

Leigh Day

UK: Nigerian Bodo community's legal claim over Shell's SPDC oil spill clean-up can be heard at trial, High Court rules

"High Court rejects Shell's attempts to block Nigerian community's legal claim over major oil spill clean-up," 12 Feb 2024

The High Court has... rejected an attempt by Shell to strike out a legal claim over its clean-up operation after two... oil spills that severely polluted the Bodo community’s land in southern Nigeria in 2008.

The spills of almost half a million barrels of oil by Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary SPDC caused the largest loss of mangrove habitat in history of oil pollution. ...the clean-up is still not complete.

In 2014 the case was settled for £55 million. In 2016 the court ruled that Shell could not prevent the Bodo community bringing a claim to enforce the clean-up, but a mediation scheme should be given time to make progress.

At a hearing in May 2023 the Bodo community claimed Shell’s clean-up operation.. was not adequate. Shell tried to have the claim struck out and asked the court to reject the community’s attempts to secure the use of independent scientific expertise to... its clean-up.

Shell claims to have almost completed the clean-up operation. ...At the hearing, lawyers... representing the Bodo community produced preliminary scientific evidence that Shell's clean-up methodology does not meet accepted international standards and will leave dangerous levels of contamination in the Bodo creek.

... The judge ruled that the Bodo community is entitled to have the evidence heard at a substantive trial. The judgment also sets directions for the parties to exchange evidence and prepare for a trial on the adequacy of Shell's clean-up on 17 February 2025.