Email from John Donovan to Michiel Brandjes, Company Secretary and Corporate General Counsel of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (copied to Jeroen van der Veer, Ollila, Brinded and Wiseman). 1 August 2007: 13.41
From: John Donovan [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: woensdag 1 augustus 2007 14:41
To: Brandjes, Michiel CM RDS-LC
Cc: van der Veer, Jeroen J RDS-CEJV; Ollila, Jorma RDS-RDS/CH; Brinded, Malcolm A RDS-ECMB; Wiseman, Richard RM SI-LMAPF
Subject: Reserves Class Action Settlement and other matters
Dear Mr Brandjes
You will probably be pleased to know that one purpose of this email is to reduce the need for us to contact Shell.
As you will be aware, I have contacted you from time to time after receiving enquiries from people who despite the disclaimers on our website, believe that we are part of Shell. I suppose that this is likely to happen in a small number of cases with such a high traffic website. Some of the enquiries come from people who have visited shell.com but did not manage to find the information they were seeking. I have forwarded on separately one such instance this morning. We even receive job applications with CV’s. I deal politely with all such enquires and sometimes end up on your website finding the information being sought.
The problem seems to be that there is no obvious way of contacting Shell by email via the shell.com home page. If visitors click on the “contact” button they are taken to a “Contact” webpage displaying your HQ address and telephone number, but no email address. The same end result occurs if selecting any other link option on the home page – you always end up with you HQ address and phone number.
I have managed to find the right webpage for making contact with Shell but only because I stumbled across it when navigating my way through the maze of pages on your site:
Can I therefore respectfully suggest that a link for the email form webpage be added to the main contact page? You would hear less from me, I would have less work to do and most importantly of all, your customers would find it easier to get into contact with Shell (and without having to make a telephone call). People find it easy to contact me because my email address is prominently displayed on the home page of our site. Perhaps Shell should have an enquiries email address on your home page. That would be an even better solution.
Turning to our email correspondence yesterday, I did not receive the promised response from Mr Wiseman mentioned in one of your emails. I can only speculate that it was something I said, or perhaps he is busy on events relating to Western Oil Sands Inc. In any event, Mr Wiseman is obviously a major asset to Shell bearing in mind his legal mastermind role in the unification of Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport into Royal Dutch Shell Plc, as reported in Managing Partner magazine. I am sure it must have been one of his underlings who neglected to register the dotcom domain name for the new company.
Finally, can you please throw any light on the following U.S. Court Order dated 30 July 2007:
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
IN RE ROYAL DUTCH/SHELL : Civ. No. 04-374 (JAP)
TRANSPORT SECURITIES : (Consolidated Cases)
(For legal reasons we have not published the content of the Court document contained in the email sent to Mr Brandjes)
The Order is of course in relation to the remaining class action lawsuit against Shell.
Am I right in saying that it means that basically the case brought by the shareholders (lead plaintiff) is dismissed without being resolved one way or the other, as are Shell’s responses (Motion for Summary Judgement and Motion to Dismiss), thereby allowing the legal process to be replaced by the arbitration carried out under the auspices of the Special Master, but leaving open the possibility that the case could be re-opened? The implication seems to be that Shell and the other parties involved have agreed a settlement of the case?
We have a special interest in this case, as may become apparent in due course.
I have not yet revealed the existence of the Court Order to any media contacts and will await your comments. I know that if I do give a copy of the Order to one of the major news organisations, they will quickly get one of their lawyers to advise in the drafting of any related news article, but I thought it best to seek your comments in your capacity as Corporate Legal Counsel.
Email received from Shell General Counsel Richard Wiseman, 1 August 007: 13.49
Dear Mr Donovan,
The only response intended was on the question of distribution of leaflets outside Shell Centre, to which you replied.
General Counsel M & A and Project Finance
Tel: xxxxxxxxxxxxx Fax: xxxxxxxxxx Mobile: xxxxxxxxxx
Shell International Limited
Registered in England and Wales
Registered Office, Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA
Company number 3075807
Email from Michiel Brandjes, Company Secretary, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, 1 August 2007:17.11
Dear Mr Donovan,
Thank you for your suggestion which we will pass on to the department that deals with website lay out and design.
If we may help you with a suggestion in return, a truly alternative solution for all those people inadvertently contacting you is for you to choose a website and email address without the word “shell” in it.
The type of court order you refer to is a mere procedural so called “clean up order”. It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the implications of that in the course of ongoing litigation.
Company Secretary and General Counsel Corporate
Royal Dutch Shell plc
Registered office: Shell Centre London SE1 7NA UK
Place of registration and number: England 4366849
Correspondence address: PO Box 162, 2501 AN The Hague,
Reply email sent to Mr Brandjes, 1 August 2007: 18.19
Dear Mr Brandjes
I am grateful for the response. It is nice to see that you have a good sense of humor. However it would be challenging to operate a gripe site focused on Shell without actually mentioning the name of the company. As you are aware, we do so in a entirely lawful manner endorsed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation in a unanimous verdict by three eminent lawyers, including a Professor of Intellectual Property Law. They rejected the allegations made by Shell and the success of the website is such that we have subsequently further enhanced our global reputation in the name of royaldutchshellplc.com, as a search on any of the main internet search engines will confirm. Indeed, my guess is that our website receives far more traffic than shell.com. Perhaps you would care to divulge shell.com traffic stats for comparison purposes?
Your phrase “all those people” is presumably intended to convey the impression that there are numerous individuals involved, when in fact the numbers are small. In any event, I have no objection to being an unpaid representative of Shell in regard to any queries mistakenly directed at us and have never foisted our opinions on anyone contacting us in such circumstances. As mentioned, I have always been polite and friendly as the correspondence demonstrates. However I would have thought that Shell would prefer to deal with such matters directly, as you might not necessarily consider me to be the best ambassador for Shell. If your website is made more user friendly in the manner constructively suggested, perhaps more people will turn to Shell for information and to make job applications. Thank you for passing on my comments
I am also grateful to you for explaining about the Court Order although I remain confused that the Judge says that the motions by the plaintiffs and the defendants (Shell) are dismissed, while you say that the litigation is “ongoing”, but I will not press you further on the matter.
Mr Wiseman has kindly supplied his response outstanding from yesterday, so we are now up to date.