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Eric De Brabandere on Shell’s liability for oil spills in Nigeria

Shell Nigeria is liable for damages from oil spills in Nigeria. The Hague Court of Appeals gave this ruling in a case that was brought by four Nigerian farmers.

Eric De Brabandere

Shell must compensate the four farmers who were supported in their action by Milieudefensie, the Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth. The amount of compensation is to be decided at later proceedings. The Court ruled that the parent company, British/Dutch multinational Shell, is liable on one point: the international concern must do more to prevent new spills by ensuring that a leak detection system is installed in one of the pipelines.

'This case is of great importance because it is the first time a parent company is held responsible for what happens in a region in which it is not active itself', says Professor  Eric De Brabandere on  American news site Bloomberg. 'And could be the start of something important.'

The ruling, however, is not a full victory for Milieudefensie, says De Brabandere. 'Shell’s mother company holds no liability for the damages done, only the liability to act on prevention.'

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