Nigerian farmers seek payouts over Shell spills23/03/2012 - 15:27:27
Lawyers say thousands of Nigerian farmers and fishermen are taking legal action in the UK in an attempt to win compensation for environmental damage caused by oil spills.
A London law firm representing more than 11,000 people from Rivers State, Nigeria, says claims are being made against oil giant Shell.
Leigh Day & Co said legal action was being started after compensation negotiations failed.
But Shell, which disputes the amount of spillage it is responsible for, today said the launch of litigation was “disappointing”.
Bosses said they wanted a “speedy resolution” to the dispute so “fair compensation” could be paid.
They said that only lawyers would benefit from legal action.
Leigh Day & Co said formal paperwork was being lodged at the High Court in London.
A spokesman said he was not sure when court hearings might begin.
“This will be the first time Shell or any oil company has faced claims in the UK from a community from the developing world for environmental damage caused by its oil extraction operations,” said the Leigh Day spokesman.
“The legal action concerns environmental damage from oil spills, which experts have advised amounted to about 500,000 barrels from a Shell pipeline in 2008.
“The oil devastated the environment surrounding the community of Bodo, in Gokana Local Government Area, Rivers State, Nigeria.
“Leigh Day & Co represents the Bodo community and is bringing the multi-million pound claim, coupled with a demand for clean up of the oil spills, against Shell Petroleum Development Company (Nigeria) ltd in the High Court in London.”
He said the Bodo community was a rural coastal settlement where about 49,000 people – mainly farmers and fishermen – lived in 35 villages.
“We are desperately disappointed that the attempts to negotiate a settlement for all those affected have now failed,” added lawyer Martyn Day.
“We are now left with the only option of taking the claims through the UK courts to obtain justice for the people of Bodo.”
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