Nigeria Can Now Sue Shell over oil spills; UK Court


Nigeria can now go ahead and sue the Royal Dutch Shell company in English courts over oil spills in the country. This affirmation is from the UK supreme court. Nigeria strongly condemns the Shell company for oil spills in its country through its subsidiary company. The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) is responsible for the pollution of land and water around the Niger Delta. A situation that has affected the livelihoods of many farmers and fishermen residing in the region. Hence, the supreme court’s decision to allow the 42,500 Nigerians to seek justice from the London law courts for the same.

Judges perception on the Nigeria Oil spill case

From the Judges point of view, there is a potential case on the matter. The least they could do is offer a hearing on the matter. As a result, the supreme court overruled a lower court suggesting there was no case. Hence, holding the parent Shell accountable for the pollution cases in the Niger Delta region. The decision further brings justice to multinational companies exploiting minor countries thanks to the UK common law.

Nigeria is under the representation of the Leigh Day Law Firm. As much as they will want compensation, the Nigerians want the company to clean up the mess. Daniel Leader, a partner at the Leigh firm, argues that the English courts had better odds of granting justice. This is based on a lack of proper accountability from their home courts. He further adds that the local people are in lack proper legal representation. Moreover, in the event they manage to take their pleas to court, it would take years before justice is realized.

Shell`s take on the matter

According to a Shell spokesperson, the company cleans up its mess. In addition, the company puts up surveillance in the area in the case of sabotages. SPDC claims the pollution is a result of sabotages with the aim of theft. Hence the reason for the oil spills. In fact, SPDC records a 41% increase in oil spills caused by sabotage and theft.

Nonetheless, the company is making efforts to extend compensation to the community affected by oil spills. This saw the company issuing 55-million-pound compensation money to the Bodo community back in 2015. The settlement was made out of court. Being the largest ever out-of-court compensation, it was to cover two oil spills incidences.

Africa steps up

Two years ago, Zimbabwe also took England to court over pollution cases. A mining firm was causing havoc in the community through its pollution cases. These moves, especially from the local communities, represent a voice for exploited rural communities. Hence, no fear when it comes to holding multinational companies exploiting communities for their benefits. As a result, the Shell company in the Niger Delta is already making moves to vacate and drill in places away from the people.



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