Dutch court says Shell partly responsible for Nigeria spills

 
City A.M. Reporter
A DUTCH court ruled yesterday that Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was responsible for a case of oil pollution in the Niger Delta and ordered it to pay damages in a decision that could open the door to further litigation.

The district court in The Hague said Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), a wholly-owned subsidiary, must compensate one farmer, but dismissed four other claims filed against the Dutch parent company.

Four Nigerians and campaign group Friends of the Earth filed suits in 2008 in The Hague, where Shell has its global headquarters, seeking reparations for lost income from contaminated land and waterways in the Niger Delta region.

The case was seen by environmental activists as a test for holding multinationals responsible for offences at foreign subsidiaries, and legal experts said other Nigerians affected by pollution might now be able to sue in the Netherlands.

Shell said the case would not set a precedent because its parent company was not held responsible.

The farmer who won compensation, 52-year-old father of 12 Friday Akpan, said he was very happy with the judgment because it would allow him to repay his debts.