Supreme Court allows claimants’ appeal in Okpabi v Shell litigation
On 12th of February 2021, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the matter of Okpabi & Others v Royal Dutch Shell & Another. Hausfeld’s client Corner House Research (CHR) was given permission to intervene in support of the appeal, which was unanimously allowed by the Supreme Court.
Corner House Research is a not-for-profit organisation which supports democratic and community movements around the world and promotes corporate accountability on environmental and social justice issues.
The Ogale and the Bille Community - two Nigerian communities and the Claimants in Okpabi - claim to have suffered from the 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. RDS claimed that it did not exercise any control over its Nigerian subsidiary, and so the English Courts had no jurisdiction to rule on the case. The Supreme Court held that the claims made against RDS were sufficiently arguable, such as to establish jurisdiction in England and Wales.
Corner House brought new evidence to the Supreme Court’s attention on the issue of corporate control. Having been mired in disputes around the world, Shell faced several charges of bribery and corruption in relation to its activities. Corner House identified documents in one set of such proceedings in Italy and highlighted these to the Supreme Court to show that RDS controlled - and was ultimately responsible - for its Nigerian subsidiary’s activities.
Hausfeld acted for Corner House Research on a pro bono basis, as did Ben Jaffey QC of Blackstone Chambers.