Dutch Court Rules Shell To Be Liable For Damage To Nigerian Farmers
When Nigerian environmental lawyer Chima Williams launched a lawsuit against oil giant Shell plc, he did not envisage a 13-year battle that would lead to a landmark ruling and land him a prestigious environmental award, Nimi Princewill, and Krystina Shveda reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: The Court of Appeal in the Hague was successfully convinced that Shell plc was responsible for the activities of its subsidiary in Nigeria.
Williams, who is the executive director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, successfully convinced the Court of Appeal in the Hague that Shell plc was responsible for the activities of its subsidiary in Nigeria -- Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria (SPDC) --- and for oil spills that ravaged local farmlands.
The suit against Shell Nigeria was brought by four farmers from the Goi and Oruma communities in the country's oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta region, who said their farms were left in ruins after major spills from underground pipelines.
The decision to allow Shell plc, formerly known as Royal Dutch Shell plc, to be sued in this jurisdiction set a precedent as it was the first time the Dutch parent company was sued in its home country for the actions of its foreign subsidiary, SPDC.
Shell Nigeria (SPDC) was eventually held liable for the oil spills and ordered to pay damages to the farmers in a January 29, 2021, ruling by the Court of Appeal of the Hague. SPDC was also ordered to carry out an intensive clean-up of the damage to the communities.
Williams was on Wednesday awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for his work in holding the company accountable for the environmental damage. Shell Nigeria spokesman Bamidele Odugbesan told CNN the company had agreed a settlement with the four farmers from Goi and Oruma communities after last year's ruling, and that representatives are "working amiably on the actualization of the judgment."