A Dutch appeals court has ruled that the Nigerian branch of oil giant Shell is responsible for leaks in the Niger Delta.
The court ordered Shell Nigeria to pay compensation to Nigerian farmers, while the subsidiary and its Anglo-Dutch parent company were told to install equipment to prevent future damage.
The case was launched in 2008 by four Nigerian farmers, who alleged widespread pollution on their land.
The ruling can be appealed against.
The court said the amount of compensation would be determined “at a later stage”.
The farmers’ case was backed by environmental group Friends of the Earth.
“Tears of joy here. After 13 years, we’ve won,” the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth tweeted.
Shell has not yet commented on the ruling.
The Dutch appeals Court as well ordered the oil giant, Shell to pay immediate compensations to Nigerian farmers in Niger Delta region who allege widespread pollution of their land because of oil spills.
“Shell Nigeria is sentenced to compensate farmers for damages,” the AFP news agency reports the court as saying.
Its parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, is not liable for compensation but is for installing equipment to prevent future damage.
The case was brought against Shell by the four farmers and the Dutch arm of the environmental group Friends of the Earth, Milieudefensie.
It tweeted its great joy at winning the case after 13 years:
Milieudefensie said the amount of compensation would be decided at a later date.
The ruling could affect other Nigerians who have been affected by the oil spills, it added.
Two of the farmers have died since the case was first filed in 2008, according to AFP.
The case is linked to three spills in the southern Niger Delta:
- Goi in the Ogoniland region of Rivers State
- Oruma in Bayelsa State
- And Ikot Ada Udo in Akwa Ibom State.