By John Donovan
The battle in the US courts over Shell discovery documents was uneven from the start. Esther Kiobel versus Shell’s formidable US lawyers CRAVATH, SWAINE & MOORE, LLP. The Nigerian-born widow of a murdered Ogoni leader on one side, still fighting to put Shell on trial for complicity in his murder, and a giant law firm on the other, which since 2002, has been blocking her path to justice.
Nonetheless, a US Judge granted her recent petition for Cravath to hand over more than 100,000 Shell discovery documents stored in the USA so that Esther can use them in a pending action against Shell in the Netherlands. In response, Cravath hired another top law firm Hogan Lovells led by one of America’s top lawyers Neal Katyal to represent them in an appeal, thus becoming a battle between Esther Kiobel (now a US citizen) and two giant law firms. No doubt with the malevolent presence of Shell lurking behind the scenes pulling the strings.