Nige­rian oil spill rul­ing: sue at home

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT | INTERNATIONAL - Karolin Schaps

OIL MA­JOR Royal Dutch Shell can­not be sued in Lon­don courts over Nige­rian oil spill al­le­ga­tions, the High Court ruled yes­ter­day, deal­ing a set­back to at­tempts to hold multi­na­tion­als li­able at home for sub­sidiaries’ ac­tiv­i­ties.

If the court had ruled in favour of the two groups, other claimants against Bri­tish-based multi­na­tion­als could have been em­bold­ened to pur­sue le­gal action through the Bri­tish courts.

Vil­lagers from the Bille and Ogale com­mu­ni­ties in Nige­ria’s oil-rich Delta re­gion were try­ing to pur­sue oil spill al­le­ga­tions against the com­pany’s Nige­rian sub­sidiary Shell Petroleum De­vel­op­ment Com­pany of Nige­ria (SPDC) in Bri­tish courts.

No ‘real is­sue’

The court ruled that the suit did not es­tab­lish that Shell, the par­ent com­pany, had le­gal responsibility for SPDC’s ac­tions.

“The claimants have failed to demon­strate that the first thresh­old re­quire­ment – a ‘real is­sue’ be­tween the claimant and the an­chor de­fen­dants – is met,” the rul­ing stated.

Leigh Day, a law firm rep­re­sent­ing the vil­lagers, said it would lodge an ap­peal.

Igo Weli, SPDC’s gen­eral man­ager for ex­ter­nal re­la­tions, said the firm hoped “the strong mes­sage sent by the English court to­day en­sures that any fu­ture claims by Nige­rian com­mu­ni­ties con­cern­ing op­er­a­tions con­ducted in Nige­ria will be heard in the proper lo­cal courts”. – Reuters

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