The Nigerian subsidiaries of Royal Dutch Shell Plc want an oil spillage case instituted against them to be tried in Nigeria where it could be potentially easier for them to win. The case was initially filed in the United Kingdom by the Oil Spill Victims Vanguard, a group of lawyers representing some 168, 000 people that were affected by the Bonga Oil Field spillage that happened in December 2011.
According to Bloomberg, the companies — Shell Exploration & Production Co and Shell International Trading & Shipping Co — are fighting for the case to be heard in Nigerian courts because the spillage occurred within the shores of Nigeria.
More so, a statement by Shell Exploration & Production Co claimed that the accident happened overnight and that considerable effort had been made to contain and clean up the 40, 000 barrels of crude which emptied into the sea and affected the surrounding lands.
“In a joint effort with regulators and industry experts, we contained and cleaned up the spill, preventing any oil from reaching the shore. These events all took place in Nigeria and any case relating to them should be heard in the proper local courts.”
Note that Shell International Trading & Shipping Co is domiciled in the UK and what this means, therefore, is that cases against it can also be tried there.
This is not the first time Shell has sought for a case against it bothering on its Nigerian operations to be tried in Nigeria. In 2017, a judge even ruled that a similar case should be heard in local courts, not those in the UK. The case in question was eventually permitted to be tried by the UK Supreme Court.
The Shell subsidiaries may be fighting to have the case tried in Nigeria because they stand greater chances of winning here than they do in the UK. The Nigerian legal system has often been alleged to be unjust to victims while favouring those who can afford to buy justice.
In the meantime, one of the lawyers representing the victims, Graham Dunning, said in legal documents that, “That oil, which has never properly been cleaned up, continues to blight the claimants, their environments, livelihoods and communities to this day.” Therefore, the Oil Spill Victims Vanguard is suing.