A United Kingdom (UK) High Court has told Niger Delta, Nigerian communities, that they cannot sue Royal Dutch Shell in the UK for oil spills in the Niger delta.
The court said that it does not want to set a precedent for others seeking to hold UK multinationals accountable for their actions abroad.
According to Energy Desk, the judge ruled that Royal Dutch Shell has no legal responsibility for alleged pollution in fishing waters and on farming land by its subsidiary in Nigeria.
Mr Justice Fraser said the claim could not proceed because it had no chance of success.
Speaking to the Guardian in December, Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi the king of the Ogoni community in the Niger Delta explained why he wanted to sue the oil giant.
“To listen to Shell saying they have not been not responsible for the pollution in Ogale has been dreadful.”
Lawyers at Leigh Day representing 40,000 Nigerian villagers have said they will challenge the decision at the Court of Appeal.
They say that the judgement has been made too early, before the disclosure of documents or oral evidence from witnesses about the relationship between Shell and its subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC)
Amnesty International have said the ruling is a “green light for UK multinationals to profit from human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world.”
The ruling is at odds with a decision at the Hague in 2015, which found that Shell could be tried in the Netherlands for oil spills in Nigeria.
The Dutch court of appeal said that: “Considering the foreseeable serious consequences of oil spills to the local environment from a potential spill source, it cannot be ruled out from the outset that the parent company may be expected in such a case to take an interest in preventing spills”.
Shell are yet to comment.