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Dutch Court orders Shell Nigeria to pay damages for oil spills

By on January 30, 2013

A Dutch court on Wednesday rejected a bid by a group of Nigerian farmers to have Shell’s parent company held responsible for oil damage, saying only subsidiary Shell Nigeria was responsible for one oil leak.

The court “dismissed all claims against the parent companies… since pursuant to Nigerian law a parent company in principle is not obliged to prevent its subsidiaries from harming third parties abroad,” judge Henk Wien told the court.

Environmental groups had hoped that a ruling against Anglo-Dutch Shell, which is headquartered in the Netherlands, could set a precedent for global responsibility and open the door for hundreds of similar claims.

Judge Wien said however that Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary must pay damages to the farmers and fishermen in one of their claims, relating to oil spills near the Niger Delta village of Ikot Ada Udo.

“Shell Nigeria has been sentenced to pay damages in one of the cases. All claims in the other four proceedings have been dismissed,” Wien said.