On Friday 27 April, ECCJ, CORE and 45 other civil society organisations from all over the world called on the UK Supreme Court to allow 40,000 people from two Nigerian fishing communities to appeal against a ruling that oil giant Shell cannot be held responsible for pipeline spills that have devastated the environment in the Niger Delta. The letter sent to the members of the Supreme Court on Friday refers to the decision adopted by the UK Court of Appeal last February concerning the case Okpabi vs Royal Dutch Shell. The ruling stated that the Anglo-Dutch parent company Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) was not responsible for pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary during decades of oil exploitation in the Niger Delta. If this ruling is allowed to stand, thousands in the Niger Delta will be left without remedy and an important route for justice for those harmed by the overseas operations of UK-based multinationals would be severely restricted. The letter to the Supreme Court urges the Court justices to grant the application for permission to appeal and hear the case...
NGOs urge UK Supreme Court to allow Nigerian communities to appeal decision that barred them from suing Shell in the UK over oil spill impacts
On 27 April 2018, more than 40 UK and international human rights, development and environmental NGOs submitted a letter to the UK Supreme Court in support of the claimants' application for permission to appeal in lawsuit brought by two Nigerian communities (Ogale and Bille) against Shell over the impacts of oil spill in the Niger Delta. In February 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that Royal Dutch Shell could not be held responsible for pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary. In the letter submitted to the Supreme Court, the signatories assert that the reasoning of the Appeal Court could limit access to justice for people allegedly harmed by the global operations of the UK-headquartered companies' subsidiaries. On 9 July 2018, the UK Supreme Court responded to the letter to inform the organisations that the Appeal Panel had decided to defer consideration of the application to appeal until judgment had been given in a very similar parent company accountability case at the Supreme Court: Vedanta Resources PLC and another (Appellants) v Lungowe and others (Respondents).
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UK: Supreme Court defers decision on application for permission to appeal in lawsuit brought by Nigerian communities against Shell over oil spill impacts
Author: Registrar of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
"Okpabi and others (Appellants) v Royal Shell Plc and another (Respondents)", 9 July 2018
The Appeal Panel has decided that consideration of this application should be deferred until judgment has been given in the Vedanta Resources PLC and another (Appellants) v Lungowe and others (Respondents).
Author: William Meade, CORE Coalition (UK)
...CORE and 45 civil society organisations...wrote to urge the UK Supreme Court to allow two Nigerian fishing communities to appeal against a ruling that oil giant Shell cannot be held responsible for pipeline spills that have devastated the environment in the Niger Delta. In February the Court of Appeal ruled (in Okpabi v Shell) that UK-based Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) was not responsible for oil pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary...The decision...is likely to have a chilling effect on similar cases...The...ruling must be reconsidered in the Supreme Court...At the Appeal Court hearing, the Claimants showed that RDS knew about the oil spills and the poor condition of the pipelines and infrastructure, but did nothing about it. Despite this, the Court ruled that there was not enough proof that RDS managers had any control over Shell Nigeria...Bringing a claim in the UK against the parent company...offers one of the only routes to justice. Yet unless the ruling in Okpabi v Shell is overturned in the Supreme Court, the decision threatens to make it near impossible to bring such cases...[T]he high evidential bar the Court imposed on the claimants to prove RDS control over its subsidiary will likely be carried over into future judgments...The Court also decided that international standards on corporate responsibility...are irrelevant to determining whether RDS had a responsibility to those affected by the pollution...This will create a perverse incentive for global companies not to improve respect for human rights and the environment throughout their business...
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Author: The Times (UK)
Campaigners are calling on the Supreme Court to hear a landmark claim brought by Nigerian fishermen against one of the world's biggest oil companies...
UK Supreme Court should allow 40.000 Nigerian villagers appeal a ruling that leaves victims of Shell's oil spills without remedy, civil society demands
Author: European Coalition for Corporate Justice
Rule 15 submission to the Supreme Court of the UK by CORE Coalition & Others on behalf of Okpabi et al. v Royal Dutch Shell
Author: Corporate Responsibility Coalition (CORE)