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UK: Supreme Court rules that polluted Nigerian communities can sue Royal Dutch Shell in the English courts

"Supreme Court rules that polluted Nigerian communities can sue Royal Dutch Shell in the English courts", 12 February 2021

  • The Judgment determines that there is a good arguable case that Royal Dutch Shell plc is legally responsible for the systemic pollution of the Ogale and Bille communities and that their case can proceed in the English courts
  • The Judgment highlights that corporate global policy frameworks and public commitments by multinational parent companies can give rise to liability for environmental and human rights abuses

The Supreme Court has ruled today that two Nigerian communities, of more than 50,000 people combined, can bring their legal claims for clean-up and compensation against Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS) and its Nigerian subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC).

The Supreme Court ruling comes just two weeks after the Dutch Court of Appeal’s landmark ruling against RDS in litigation brought by four Nigerian farmers and Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) against Shell which held RDS liable for pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary and ordered it to improve its pipeline network.

In this latest case, the UK Supreme Court overturned a split decision of the Court of Appeal and held that the two cases brought by the Ogale and Bille communities against Royal Dutch Shell are arguable and can proceed in the English courts.

... Leigh Day partner Daniel Leader, who represents the claimants, said:

“This Supreme Court judgment gives real hope to the people of Ogale and Bille who have been asking Shell to clean up their oil for years. We hope that now, finally, Shell will act."

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