Legal Nigeria

Shell cannot be sued in UK for Nigerian oil spill – Court

Britain’s High Court ruled on Thursday that oil major Royal Dutch Shell cannot be sued in London courts over Nigeria oil spill allegations.If the High Court had ruled in favor of the two groups, other claimants against British-based multinationals could have been emboldened to pursue legal action through the British courts, some legal experts had told Reuters.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 (SPDC) in British courts.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 – is there 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 appeal the ruling.SPDC’s General Manager for External Relations, Igo Weli, 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.”The Nigerian villagers argued domestic courts were unfit to hear their case, while Shell said the matter was a uniquely Nigerian issue and should be heard there.Shell also denied responsibility for the spills, which it said were due to sabotage and illegal refining.The Nation