More than 11 000 Nigerians from the oil producing Niger Delta have filed a compensation claim against Shell at the London High Court, the latest step in a case that will test whether multinationals can be held to account for the actions of overseas subsidiaries.
In 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) Supreme Court allowed a group of 42 500 Nigerian farmers and fishermen to sue Shell in the English courts after years of oil spills had contaminated land and groundwater.
The judges said at the time there was an arguable case that Shell, one of the world’s biggest energy companies, was responsible because it exercised significant control over its Nigeria subsidiary The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC).
The claims say oil spills resulting from Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta have destroyed farms, contaminated drinking water and harmed acquatic life.
“The next stage in the case is for a case management hearing to be set in Spring 2023, ahead of the full trial which is likely to occur the following year,” Leigh Day said in astatement.
A Shell spokesperson said the majority of spills related to the Ogale and Bille claims were caused by illegal third-party interference, including pipeline sabotage but that SPDC would continue cleaning affected areas.