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40,000 Nigerians take Shell to UK court over oil spills




Online Editor: November 16, 2016

UK based oil firm, Shell, is facing fresh environmental claims in a London high court from two Nigerian communities who have suffered pollution episodes following repeated large scale oil spills from the oil giant’s pipelines in the Niger Delta.  

This is according to a statement released Tuesday by Leigh Day, a London based law firm, which was signed by David Standard, its head of media relations.

The two separate legal actions are being brought by law firm Leigh Day who represented the Bodo Community against Shell in an unprecedented environmental claim resulting in Shell agreeing to pay compensation package of £55million to the Community and 15,600 Nigerian fishermen whose livelihoods had been destroyed by Shell’s oil pollution.   

The high court will begin to hear arguments during a four-day hearing starting on November 21, 2016 on whether the English courts can hear two legal claims on behalf of over 40,000 Nigerians against Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) and its Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) for extensive environmental damage caused by oil pollution to two separate communities in the Niger Delta.

The first claim is being brought on behalf of 2,335 individuals from the Bille Kingdom of Nigeria, who are mostly fishermen that claim their environment has been devastated by oil spills over the past five years.

The second claim is brought on behalf of the Ogale Community in Ogoniland, which consists of roughly 40,000 people.

The community has been subjected to repeated oil spills from Shell’s pipelines over a number of years which have still not been cleaned up. 

The appalling level of pollution in the Ogale community was carefully documented by the United Nations Environment Programme in their 2011 report.

In March 2016, the Technology and Construction Court agreed that the two legal cases could proceed to the next stage through the London High Court, where the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell plc, is based.

Lawyers for the Nigerians communities argue that Royal Dutch Shell, who has its headquarters in the UK, controls and directs its’ Nigerian subsidiary and should ensure that its operations do not systematically pollute the environment. 

Both Royal Dutch Shell and Shell Nigeria argue that the cases should be heard in Nigeria and not in the English Courts.

Daniel Leader, partner in the International Group Claims Team at Leigh Day said “oil spills from Shell’s oil pipelines have blighted the lives of the thousands of Nigerians who live in Ogale and Bille. It is scandalous that five years after the UNEP report, Shell is yet to clean up its own oil in either Ogale or Bille communities.”  


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