2 July 2014

UK Court upholds possible liability of Shell for failure to prevent oil spills

On 20 June 2014, the UK High Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling holding that Shell Nigeria could be held responsible under Nigerian law with regards to major oil spills which occurred in the region of Bodo in 2008 and 2009 and resulted in severe pollution in the Niger Delta. The case is been brought by more than 15000 Nigerian claimants.

The Court interpreted the law of Nigeria and found that the company could be liable not only for damages caused by its own operational failures (which Shell accepts), but also for its failure to take reasonable care to protect its pipelines and prevent incidents or sabotage.

The UK decision refers to a similar ruling from a Dutch Court from January 2013, which had considered Shell Nigeria responsible under Nigerian law with regards to one victim for its failure to prevent sabotage.

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Source: The Bodo Community and others v. The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited | [2014] EWHC 1973 (TCC) | 20 June 2014
Source: The Guardian | Shell faces payouts in Nigerian oil spill case
Source: Leigh Day | London High Court rules that Shell Nigeria could be legally liable for bunkering

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