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History of the Bodo litigation

The claim originates from two oil spills that took place in Bodo, a small community in Rivers State in the Niger Delta, in late 2008. These oil spills have devastated the sensitive environment of Bodo and left many members of the Bodo community unable to earn money by fishing and farming as they used to.

In July 2011, following a letter of claim from Leigh Day to SPDC, SPDC admitted liability for the two oil spills in the Niger Delta.  Shortly afterwards, in an agreement between the parties, SPDC formally agreed to accept liability and accepted the jurisdiction of the English courts, which meant that a claim against SPDC could be brought in the High Court in London.

Negotiations then took place between Leigh Day and representatives of SPDC: Leigh Day was seeking payment of compensation to members of the Bodo community and a guarantee that Shell would clean up the devastated environment of Bodo.  Unfortunately, negotiations broke down and Leigh Day subsequently filed papers at the High Court in London on Friday 23 March 2012.

On 28 September 2012, SPDC set out its Defence to the claims and responded to the legal arguments presented by Leigh Day.  On 16 April 2013, Leigh Day served a Reply to this Defence. Discussions between Shell’s lawyers and Leigh Day have continued since then, and further settlement negotiations took place in Nigeria in September 2013. Shell made an offer to settle the claims at these negotiations, but the offer was unanimously rejected by the members of the Bodo community, who dismissed it as “derisory and insulting”.    

A hearing on various legal objections to the case which Shell has raised will be heard in the High Court for two weeks beginning on 29 April 2014.  Thereafter, the case will move to trial.

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