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Shell faces trial over oil spill claims by Nigerian communities

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Shell faces trial over oil spill claims by Nigerian communities

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Shell's accountability for Nigerian oil spills will be determined in upcoming trials

Claims by two Nigerian communities and over 13,000 individuals against Shell regarding devastating oil spill pollution will progress with preliminary discussions ahead of an initial trial in 2025. A case management conference will be held on June 11-12, 2024, at the High Court in London, addressing the scope of the forthcoming factual trial related to the Bille community. This trial will assess the levels of oil contamination and its causes and consequences.

Shell recently announced divesting their onshore operations in Nigeria, which complicates the issue. The litigation, spearheaded by law firm Leigh Day, will also test multinational companies' legal obligations under the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the right to a clean environment. The trial's outcome could set a precedent for corporate accountability in environmental matters.

In March, Shell was ordered to disclose documents related to their liability for spills between 2011 and 2013. Since a 2021 Supreme Court ruling, Leigh Day has been preparing for the trial, representing the communities who seek compensation and cleanup of their devastated lands. Shell argues it has no legal responsibility for the pollution.