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Nigerians bring pollution case against Shell in the Netherlands

Lawsuit could open the door for more plaintiffs to sue multinational companies in their home countries

Four Nigerian villagers taking a stand against Royal Dutch Shell over the alleged pollution of their homelands may end up paving the way for all plaintiffs suing multinational corporations.

The villagers, along with Friends of the Earth, a campaign group, claim that the oil giant polluted the land and water in the Niger Delta. However, they took their case to civil court in The Hague, Netherlands, site of Shell’s global headquarters. This is the first time that a Dutch company has been sued in Dutch court over a foreign subsidiary’s alleged actions.

Thomson Reuters reports that, if the case is successful, more plaintiffs could seek relief from multinationals by suing in their home countries.

"It opens up a range of possibilities for people from poor countries to use the legal system to seek compensation from companies," Geert Ritsema, international affairs coordinator at Friends of the Earth, told Thomson Reuters.

Shell claims that the oil leaks were caused by sabotage—thieves who break into pipelines looking to steal oil, and says it has already played its part in cleaning up the area.


Read more InsideCounsel stories about lawsuits against Big Oil:

Exxon Mobil faces lawsuits over Yellowstone River oil spill

Feds to pursue gross negligence claims in BP oil spill case

Brazilian court upholds ban against Chevron and Transocean

Lawsuit accuses Chevron of gross negligence in refinery fire

Ecuadorian plaintiffs sue Chevron in Brazil

Shell’s exploratory drilling mission in the Gulf of Mexico can continue

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