Shell can't be sued in London for Nigeria oil spills - Court

A High Court in London has dismissed a suit by Bille and Ogale communities seeking to sue Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) in English courts for spill incidents in the Niger Delta.

Members of the Ogale and Bille communities, represented by London law firm Leigh Day, had applied for the case to be heard in Britain, arguing they could not get justice in Nigeria, but the High Court in London said it did not have jurisdiction in the case.

King Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi, ruler of the Ogale, said: "Our community is disappointed but not discouraged by this judgement".

A Nigerian court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Eni SpA to cede control of a jointly owned oil license to the government amid an investigation into how they purchased the asset.

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BBC AFRICA reported that the case against Shell was brought by two communities, Ogale and Bille.

"Royal Dutch Shell makes billions of dollars of profit each year from Nigerian oil but our communities which host its' infrastructure have been left environmentally devastated".

The multinational oil giant argues that the case should be heard in Nigeria, pointing out it involves its subsidiary in that country.

Daniel Leader, the Leigh Day lawyer representing the communities, said after the latest ruling: "The Ogale and Bille communities are surprised by this Judgement and have instructed us to lodge an appeal".

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During the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP21, a group of countries led by Ecuador proposed the creation of an global ecological tribunal to deal with ecological crimes such as these.

The court, however, ruled in the subsidiary's favor Thursday by remanding the case to a lower court in Nigeria.

"The judge's decision is blatantly at odds with how multinationals like Shell work in today's globalised world". "We hope and expect that the court of appeal will overturn this decision to show that the United Kingdom justice system will provide remedy to impoverished communities who suffer serious abuse caused by United Kingdom corporations", Westby said.

However, in November 2016, Shell sought to block the claims in London on the grounds the London based parent company (Royal Dutch Shell) was not legally responsible for the pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary and that it was open to the communities to seek redress through the Nigerian courts.

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Shell also denies responsibility for the spills, which it says were due to sabotage and illegal refining.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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