By John Donovan
Provided below are links to a selection of US court documents I have published online about a dispute being litigated in the US courts involving Shell, Exxon and the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC). A gigantic sum (including interest) of $2.47bn USD is at stake.
In an echo of the Esther Kiobel v Shell case, also currently being heard in the US courts, the current arguments are about the discovery process. (Esther is actually suing Shell’s US lawyers, Cravath Swaine & Moore.)
Extract from a LAW360 Report:
New York (August 8, 2017, 8:34 PM EDT) — A New York federal judge on Monday took another stab at ending a monthslong spat over discovery as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC subsidiaries look to confirm a $1.8 billion arbitral award, giving Nigeria’s state-owned oil company until Sept. 30 to finish turning over certain documents. Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Ltd. and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Co. Ltd. won the award — worth about $2.47 billion with interest as of last October — from the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. based…
Shell is using the US courts in an attempt to force the handover of discovery documents held by a Nigerian company, while, simultaneously, through its US lawyers, resisting a US court order for the handover of discovery documents to Esther Kiobel. Shell likes to use the US courts for Nigerian matters when it suits Shell.
Jurisdiction is one of the issued involved in Shell/Exxon v NNPC case. Indeed, a section commencing on page 4 of document 2 below is headed: “JURISDICTION AND VENUE”. Basically, Shell/Exxon makes the case that the US courts are the correct jurisdiction and venue to settle a dispute arising from activities in Nigeria.
This is 100% at odds with the jurisdiction and venue arguments Shell successfully made to the US Supreme Court, which in 2013, brought an immediate end to over a decade of US litigation proceedings by Esther Kiobel. This was the famous case for alleged human rights abuses by Shell in Nigeria, including the murder of the ‘Ogoni 9’.
Esther has brought the same human rights case in the Dutch courts and is seeking the discovery that Shell assembled for the thwarted US human rights action. Shell is determined that she will not have them.
Selection of court documents Shell/Exxon v NNPC
NigeriaDoc1: One page document instigating the litigation 22 Oct 2014
NigeriaDoc2: 7 Pages: PETITION TO CONFIRM FOREIGN ARBITRAL AWARD 22 Oct 2014
NigeriaDoc5: One page: RULE 7.1 STATEMENT 23 Oct 2014
NigeriaDoc33: 13 Pages: Transcript of court hearing 20 March 2015
NigeriaDoc54 60 Pages SECOND AMENDED AND SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION TO CONFIRM FOREIGN ARBITRAL AWARD AND REQUEST FOR PRE-JUDGMENT SECURITY: filed 21 Oct 2016
NigeriaDoc89 21 Pages: Transcript of Court hearing held 17 February 2017
NigeriaDoc124 8 Pages: Letter and exhibits filed with the Court 2 August 217
NigeriaDoc125: 4 Pages: MEMORANDUM & ORDER filed 7 August 2017
FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE ESTHER KIOBEL DUTCH WRIT
A 138 page Writ of Summons was served on Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017 by Dutch Human Rights law firm Prakken d’Oliveira. They represent four widows including Esther Kiobel who hold Shell liable for the murder of their husbands individual Ogoni leaders now known collectively as the ‘Ogoni Nine‘. MOSOP Chairman Ken Saro-Wiwa was one of the group. For the purpose of this online publication, the footnotes are indicated in red text.
Disclosure: The lead claimant Esther Kiobel, Channa Samkalden of the Dutch human rights law firm Prakken d’Oliveira representing the widows, and the acclaimed human rights organisation Amnesty International, have all acknowledged the involvement of John Donovan in bringing *this case. (*See Writ of Summons in English and Dutch served on Shell 28 June 2017 – copy obtained from US Pacer public electronic court records)
Shell blanket denial: Shell’s blanket denial of any responsibility for the ‘Ogoni Nine’ executions and related events/allegations can be read here. The denial does not explain why Shell settled for $15.5 million in June 2009 a case legally and substantively the same.