*As case to now be heard in UK
with agency report
Lagos — Royal Dutch Shell Plc has given up on push for an oil spill case filed against it by some Niger Delta communities to be heard in Nigeria as against in the UK.
A report by Bloomberg quoting parties in the case says Shell’s legal team failed to return to England’s High Court with arguments that the five-year-old case would be better heard in Nigeria.
The case with about 40,000 members of Nigeria’s Ogale and Bille communities had alleged that Royal Dutch Shell and SPDC, its local subsidiary, are jointly responsible for oil contamination they’ve suffered in the Niger Delta since the 1980s. The campaign came to prominence under the leadership of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995.
With the development, Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, SPDC will now be joined to claims made in England against the parent company.
The U.K. Supreme Court said in a landmark ruling in February that Shell’s parent company could be sued in English courts for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary. The court, however, left the door open for Shell to argue that it was more appropriate to leave any action against the local unit to Nigerian courts. By including the subsidiary in the U.K. proceedings, more documents about Shell’s work in Nigeria are likely to be made public.
“This is a significant win” for the affected communities because it means they can finally bring their case to trial, Daniel Leader, a lawyer who represents the claimants, said in a statement. However, he added, “Shell’s oil contamination remains in their drinking water, land and waterways, and still no clean-up has taken place,” the report said.
Shell declined to comment.
The company said in February that it cleans up any environmental damage regardless of the cause.
A U.K court had in January ordered the company to pay compensation to villagers in the Niger Delta over an oil spill that occured decades ago.
In a separate trial in The Hague in May, Shell lost a key case in which it was told to slash emissions by 45% across all its international operations by 2030.
The company plans to become “net-zero” in terms of its carbon emissions by 2050.