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UK court rules Nigeria towns can sue Shell in UK

[JURIST] A UK judge ruled Wednesday that Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) [corporate website] can be sued by two Nigerian towns in a British court for their involvement in oil leaks in Nigeria. Lawyers from Leigh Day brought a case [press release] in England against the oil conglomerate on behalf of the Nigerian towns of Ogale and Bille. The lawsuit stems from a claim that RDS has neglected the cleanup of oil spills for decades within the Nigerian region. The unaddressed spills have allegedly contaminated Nigerian farmland and polluted fishing waters. RDS has denied the allegations, blaming the oil pollution on sabotage and theft.

Last November Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported that Shell has failed [JURIST report] to clean oil-polluted areas of the Niger Delta, despite the company's assurances [report, PDF] that it has properly handled the oil spills. In November 2014 AI reported [JURIST report] that Shell made false claims [court documents, PDF] about the potential impact of an oil spill in Bodo, Nigeria. In January 2013 a Dutch court ruled [JURIST report] that a Shell subsidiary could be held liable for damages to one Nigerian farmer, but dismissed the other farmers' claims. In October 2012 four Nigerian residents and an advocacy group told the Dutch court that Shell should be held liable [JURIST report] for damage from oil pollution in the Niger Delta. The suit was the first time a Dutch company had been sued for the alleged misconduct of its foreign subsidiary.

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