Nigerian oil spill ruling: sue at home
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