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Dutch civil court ruling on Shell’s responsibility for cleaning up oil spills in Nigeria

Published January 30, 2013 by Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands –  Dutch judges are ruling in a landmark civil action by Nigerian farmers who want to hold oil giant Shell liable for poisoning their fish ponds and farmlands with leaking pipelines.

The decision being announced Wednesday could set a legal precedent for holding multinationals responsible for their actions overseas.

Lawyers for the four Nigerians from the oil-rich Niger delta argue Shell makes key policy decisions at its Hague headquarters, so the Dutch court has jurisdiction.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC long argued that the case, which was launched in 2008, should be heard in Nigeria.

The case at The Hague Civil Court marks the first time a Dutch company has been sued for alleged environmental mismanagement caused by a foreign subsidiary and could pave the way for similar claims if it succeeds.

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