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29 Jan 2021

David Vetter, Forbes

Nigeria: In landmark verdict, Dutch court rules Shell Nigeria responsible for Niger Delta oil spills & Royal Dutch Shell violated its duty of care

"Niger Delta Oil Spills: Shell Ruled Responsible In Landmark Verdict", 29 January 2021

In a historic ruling against the oil giant Shell, a Netherlands court has found in favor of four Nigerian farmers along with environmental activists in an oil spill case that was first filed in 2008. 

In the verdict delivered Friday at the Court of Appeal in The Hague, the appeals judge sided with the farmers in finding Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary responsible for four out of six pipeline leaks covered by the lawsuit, as well as declaring that the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, had violated its duty of care.

Shell will pay an unspecified amount in damages to the farmers, who claimed the spills had ruined the livelihoods of villagers in the area. The company was also ordered to install leak detection equipment in its pipelines.

... One of the Nigerian plaintiffs, Eric Dooh from the village of Goi, told the media: “Finally, there is some justice for the Nigerian people suffering the consequences of Shell’s oil. It is a bittersweet victory, since two of the plaintiffs, including my father, did not live to see the end of this trial. But this verdict brings hope for the future of the people in the Niger Delta.”

Friends of the Earth Netherlands, which helped to bring the case, said the verdict “exceeds all expectations.” Director Donald Pols said: “This is fantastic news for the affected farmers ... This is also a warning for all Dutch transnational corporations involved in injustice worldwide ...

Royal Dutch Shell said in a statement that it was “disappointed” by the verdict. The company claims that the leaks were caused by sabotage.

Friends of the Earth said it was the first time a Dutch multinational had been held responsible for a duty of care overseas...