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10 Jan 2017

Karolin Schaps & Libby George, Reuters (UK)

Court to decide if Shell can face trial in UK in lawsuit by communities over oil spill in Nigeria

"Shell battles Nigerian communities in high-stakes London lawsuit", 6 Jan 2017

A court in London will decide in coming weeks whether Royal Dutch Shell can face trial in the UK over oil spill allegations in Nigeria, a decision some legal experts predict could attract more cases against multinationals...The High Court will judge whether members from two communities, Bille and Ogale...can sue the Anglo-Dutch company in British courts...Shell says the case should be heard in Nigeria because the matter is “uniquely a Nigerian problem”.  Shell also denies responsibility for the spills...If the High Court rules in favor of the communities, some legal experts say other claimants against British-based multinationals would be emboldened to pursue legal action through the British courts.  Some legal experts also warned that a victory by the communities could encourage unscrupulous residents to let oil spills worsen...as payouts are often linked to the scale of the damage...The Bille and Ogale groups launched their claim just months after Shell agreed a 55 million pound ($68 million) settlement in 2015 with...the Bodo community..."We fully intend to have this (jurisdictional issue) decided by a trial judge, to determine the issue once and for all," said...legal counsel for Shell...