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Appeal on Shell Pollution in Nigeria case to be heard by UK Supreme Court

Appeal on Shell Pollution in Nigeria case to be heard by UK Supreme Court

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP: 2 August 2019

In a sign of the extent to which class actions have become part of the mainstream of English litigation, the Supreme Court has recently given permission to appeal in three cases brought by or on behalf of large groups of claimants in three completely different contexts.

The third appeal is in litigation brought by large groups of individuals against UK-based Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary relating to alleged pollution from pipelines and associated infrastructure in Nigeria. In February 2018, the Court of Appeal held, by a majority, that the English court did not have jurisdiction to hear the claims, as the claimants could not demonstrate a properly arguable case that Royal Dutch Shell owed a duty of care to those affected – see Okpabi and others v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 191, considered in this post on our Litigation Notes blog.

The Supreme Court’s decision could have important implications for cases of so-called “class action tourism” in which claims are brought, typically, against a UK-based parent company and a local operating subsidiary in relation to alleged breaches in the local jurisdiction.


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