Today Is Judgement Day On Shell Spill Case In Dutch Court

Yemisi Izuora

Oil major, Royal Dutch, Shell will know its fate today as a Dutch court rules in a long-running oil spillage case.

The case was instituted against Shell by four Nigerian farmers who accused it of causing widespread pollution.

The ruling is expected at 1000 GMT which is 11am Nigerian time.

The case has dragged on for 13 years.

However, an Appeal court in The Hague will today rule on the farmers’ demands; which is mainly for the Anglo-Dutch firm to clean up devastating oil spills in three villages in the Niger Delta and pay compensation, Daily Mirror reports.

It marks the first time a Dutch company has been held liable for actions by its foreign subsidiary. Also, the court action is backed by the Netherlands arm of environment group, Friends of the Earth.

However, the case has dragged on for so long that two of the Nigerian farmers have died since it was first filed in 2008.

Shell had argued that the matter should not be heard in the Netherlands.

“After almost 13 years, we will hear whether Nigerians will finally receive justice; or whether Shell has succeeded in completely shirking its responsibility for the pollution,” Donald Pols of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said in a statement.

“For the inhabitants of the Niger Delta, it is crucial that their land is cleaned up and their lost crops and livelihoods are compensated by the guilty party: Shell,” he added.

Meanwhile, Shell has always blamed the spills on sabotage. Further, it claims that it has cleaned up with due care where pollution has occurred.

The farmers first sued Shell in 2008 over pollution in their villages Goi, Ikot Ada Udo and Oruma.

But a lower court in the Netherlands ruled that Shell should pay compensation for one leak, at Ikot Ada Udo. Also, it ruled that Shell’s parent company in the Netherlands could not be held liable in a Dutch court for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary.

However, the ruling was overturned in 2015 by the Hague appeals court; which ruled that Dutch courts did indeed have jurisdiction in the case.

The appeals court will decide on the substance of the case; whether Shell is to blame for the oil leaks and if it did enough to prevent them and future spills.

In a separate case in the Netherlands, the widows of four Nigerian activists executed by the military regime in the 1990s; have accused Shell of complicity in their deaths.

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