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Shell & the Bodo community – settlement vs. litigation
Author: Elodie Aba, Legal Researcher, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Published on: 12 January 2015
On 7 January 2015…Shell had agreed to an out of court settlement of £55 million with the Bodo community affected by oil spills in Nigeria. This agreement brings to an end a six year journey seeking justice for these residents of the Niger Delta. It is a ground-breaking settlement – despite so much damage, no multinational oil company has ever directly compensated individuals harmed in the Niger Delta for the destruction of the environment on which so much of their livelihoods depends…Shell’s settlement with the Bodo community means the Nigerian victims will receive compensation without needing to endure a potentially lengthy legal process…However…[a] trial…could have potentially set an important legal precedent and clarified the position of English courts for future corporate human rights lawsuits. But…a trial involves an uncertain outcome, and the legal process could be made even longer with subsequent appeals…The hope must be that this settlement sends a message to so many other companies embroiled in long legal cases around extensive environmental damage to communities.