Possible New Evidence in Okpabi v Shell Litigation?

by The Corner House

first published 13 May 2020

On 27th April 2020, UK lawyers Hausfeld applied on behalf of Corner House Research (CHR), for permission to intervene in the Okpabi v Shell litigation in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

The Ogale and the Bille Community -- two Nigerian communities and the Claimants in Okpabi -- claim to have suffered from prolonged oil pollution caused by Shell’s operations in their territories and are seeking justice in England against Shell’s head company, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS), headquartered in London. Okpabi is now being fought all the way to the Supreme Court, with RDS claiming that it did not exercise any control over the Nigerian subsidiary responsible for the environmental damage, and so the English Courts have no jurisdiction to rule on the case.

The Corner House is bringing new evidence to the Supreme Court’s attention on the issue of corporate control. Having been mired in disputes around the world, Shell is facing charges of bribery and corruption in relation to its activities. Corner House identified documents in one set of such proceedings in Italy which may assist the Claimants in Okpabi to show that RDS controlled -- and was ultimately responsible -- for its Nigerian subsidiary’s activities.

Hausfeld is acting for Corner House Research on a pro bono basis, as is Ben Jaffey QC of Blackstone Chambers.