A Dutch appeals court has ruled that Royal Dutch Shell may be held liable for oil spills at its subsidiary in Nigeria, potentially opening the way for other compensation claims against multinationals in the Niger Delta and elsewhere. Ciara Lee reports.
In hot water - a Dutch appeals court has ruled that Royal Dutch Shell should be held liable for oil spills at its subsidiary in Nigeria. The dispute dates back to 2008 when four Nigerian farmers and campaign group Friends of the Earth filed the suit against the company. Judges in The Hague ordered Shell to make available to the court documents that might shed light on the cause of the oil spills and who was aware of them. Friends of the Earth lawyer Channa Sakalden says it potentially paves the way for other compensation claims against multinationals. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LAWYER FOR FRIENDS OF THE EARTH NETHERLANDS, CHANNA SAKALDEN, SAYING: "The fact that the court has jurisdiction on this case means that probably in the future in similar cases, victims of human right abuses by corporations or by other companies that also have a company here in the Netherlands, can bring their case to the Netherlands to get justice." The case will continue to be heard in March 2016. Representatives for Shell's subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria said it believes issues which took place within Nigeria, should be heard in Nigeria. In a separate case, Shell agreed in January to pay out 55 million pounds in out-of-court compensation for two oil spills in Nigeria in 2008. It has always blamed sabotage for the leaks, which under Nigerian law would mean it is not liable to pay compensation. Also under pressure - BP is facing a class action lawsuit in Mexico over its deadly 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It comes just a few months after BP reached a record settlement in the U.S. over the spill.