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4 Nigerians Sue Shell In Dutch Court Over Alleged Oil Spills

Dow Jones Newswires

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Four Nigerians have brought a case over alleged oil spills against Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB, RDSB.LN) at a Dutch court, in what could set a legal precedent for multinationals in the European nation.

The Alien Tort Claims Act is routinely used in the U.S. against global corporations–notably in the oil industry–for alleged environmental or human-rights violations abroad.

But a court case brought by four alleged Nigerian victims of Shell oil spills, in conjunction with Friends of the Earth Netherlands, “is the first time in history that a Dutch company has been brought to trial before a Dutch court for damages abroad,” the Remember Saro-Wiwa campaign, an environmental rights organization, said in statement.

The case will begin Thursday in a court at The Hague, Netherlands, where Shell is headquartered, the statement said.

“Nigerian farmers and fishermen, who lost their livelihoods after oil from leaking Shell pipelines streamed over their fields and fishing ponds, are claiming compensation from the Anglo-Dutch oil giant,” the statement said. “They also want Shell to clean up the oil which remains in the land, so that they can return to farming and fishing,” it added.

Evert Hassink, an official with Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said the damages sought had yet to be specified. The alleged victims have asked “the judge to declare Shell responsible for the damage, to clean their property and only finally to be compensated for the damage,” he said.

The statement by Remember Saro-Wiwa also said the plaintiffs have subpoenaed Shell’s subsidiary in Nigeria and Shell’s Dutch headquarters.

“Shell denies all responsibility and contends that the Dutch court has no jurisdiction over its Nigerian subsidiary,” the statement added.

Shell had no immediate comment.

-By Benoit Faucon, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 77 601 777 36; [email protected]

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