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Clariant Rejects Shell’s Billion-Dollar Ethylene Damages Claim But Is Facing A Ruthless Adversary

By John Donovan: 19 October 2023

In yet another thrilling episode of corporate battles, Clariant has boldly rejected Shell’s claim for damages.

Clariant, the Swiss chemicals company, has made it perfectly clear that they reject Shell’s claim. Shell had the nerve to bring a claim against Clariant and three other companies in the district court of Amsterdam, alleging damages of up to a billion euros.

Clariant, however, swiftly fired back with an impeccable argument: “Shell was not a supplier of ethylene to Clariant, and Clariant has substantiated economic evidence that the conduct of the parties did not produce any effect on the market.” Bravo, Clariant, for showing such outstanding resolve in the face of these allegations!

But, of course, Shell had a response of its own, insisting that Clariant was indeed one of several companies supplying ethylene to the companies involved or their affiliates. As a supplier of ethylene to the European market, Shell has graciously decided to initiate litigation proceedings against these alleged rogue companies. After all, who doesn’t love a good legal battle over price manipulation?

And let’s not forget Clariant’s past alleged escapades. They were among the lucky trio fined a mere EUR260 million by the European Commission in July 2020 for what the EU body quaintly called “cartel activities” related to ethylene purchases. Clariant had to cough up a mere EUR155.8 million, chump change for a company of their stature.

It is also salient to note that Shell has immense expertise as a participant in repeated illegal cartel activity stretching back almost a century. The notorious Nazi Germany chemical company IG Farben was one of Shell’s cartel partners in a number of ventures. (Shell’s founder Sir Henri Deterding was himself a diehard Nazi).

Having sued Shell many times, I warn Clariant to be on its guard when engaged in litigation with Shell, which has a long relationship with former MI6 agents well-versed in the dark arts. I have myself been a repeated target of spying operations by Shell, one of the more recent as reported by Reuters. 

As always, Shell is invited to point out any factual inaccuracies, though I am  certain they’re too busy preparing for their next legal battle to bother.


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