Win in Supreme Court in jurisdictional battle against Shell

In Okpabi v Royal Dutch Shell plc and others [2021] UKSC 3, a claim was brought by over 40,000 Nigerians relating to numerous oil spills occurring over an extended period in Nigeria. The claim was brought against the Nigerian Shell subsidiary and also against Royal Dutch Shell, the group parent company based in England and The Netherlands. Jurisdiction was challenged on the basis that the claimants did not have an arguable case against Royal Dutch Shell and the claimants’ case was dismissed in the High Court and their appeal to the Court of Appeal was unsuccessful. The Supreme Court, however, in a unanimous judgment given by Lord Hamblen, allowed the claimants’ appeal. The Supreme Court cautioned against the courts engaging in mini-trials, as the High Court and Court of Appeal had done here. They applied the guidance given by the Supreme Court in Lungowe v Vedanta Resources plc [2019] UKSC 20 [2020] AC 1045.

Robert Weir QC acted in the Supreme Court, with Richard Hermer QC and Edward Craven (both of Matrix Chambers) for the claimants, instructed by Dan Leader, Matthew Renshaw and Stephen Bilko of Leigh Day.

The same legal team had  succeeded in the Vedanta case in 2020.

To read a full copy of the judgment, please click here. This judgment was widely reported in the press, including: The Guardian, BBC, and Bloomberg.

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