Court of Appeal in London has ruled that two Nigerian communities cannot pursue Royal Dutch Shell in English courts over oil spills in Nigeria’s Delta region.
The split decision upheld a High Court ruling in 2017 that was a setback to attempts to hold British multinationals liable at home for their subsidiaries’ actions abroad.
The court rejected the appeal from law firm, Leigh Day on behalf of Nigeria’s Bille and Ogale communities, and upheld a ruling that English courts do not have jurisdiction over claims against Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
SPDC is jointly operated with the Nigerian government.
Shell said the court “rightly upheld” the earlier ruling, and said Nigeria’s “well-developed justice system” was the correct place for the claims.
Leigh Day said the two Nigerian communities intended to bring the case to Britain’s Supreme Court.
“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant permission to appeal and will come to a different view,” Leigh Day partner Daniel Leader said.
Day is representing over 40,000 Nigerians from Ogale and the Bille communities in claims against Shell.
Both communities alleged that they have suffered systematic and ongoing oil pollution for years because of Shell’s operations.
Shell does not dispute that both communities have been severely polluted by its oil, or that it has yet to clean up the oil.
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