In a win for the oil majors and their insurers, the UK’s Supreme Court has ruled that it is too late for a group of Nigerian claimants to sue the oil giant Shell, in relation to an offshore spill more than a decade ago.
Partner Leigh Crestohl commented on the recent UKSC judgment handed down in the case of Jalla and another (Appellants) v Shell International Trading and Shipping Company and another (Respondents):
The judgment gives predictability to polluters, by ruling out the possibility of facing litigation many years after an environmental accident. However, environmental disasters of this kind can have devastating effects for local communities, even at great distances from accident sites, and even across national borders. Affected communities may take considerable time to understand the full impact of the harm caused by an oil spill, to gather sufficient technical evidence and to obtain the financial and legal resources necessary to bring a successful claim. When considering the effect of limitations on such cases, the Court needs to balance the interests of predictability with those of justice. In this case, the “continuing nuisances” does not seek to have been sufficiently flexible to permit the claimants to avoid the effect of the limitation period.