Royal Dutch Shell Editorial Requirements
Judges at the Hague (Holland) ruled on the 18th December 2015 that Royal Dutch Shell may be held liable for the damages from the oil spills at its subsidiary in Nigeria. You are required to consider the impact of this ruling on the directors of international companies (or on the directors of Shell itself) and write two editorials, one for the Australian and one that may be suitable for the Financial Review.
Please note the following:
- Although you are required to write editorials, you are still expected to follow normal JCU protocols that require you to cite and reference your sources of information. Citations and references are not included in the word count.
- The word count of 1200 words in total (that is 600 words in each editorial) is for guidance purposes only. Editorials are brief and intended to get across your main idea. If they are too long you will lose the impact of your message and this will affect your mark.
- The two editorials should be submitted as one document for simplicity and efficiency
- Be careful when searching online for information. There are numerous ‘case studies’ in regard to earlier court cases. These can give you the background to the problem but may not relate to the current court case, and do not have a ‘directors’ responsibilities’ focus. Following them closely will not achieve result you may wish to achieve.
- Again a warning in regard to plagiarism. I do not tolerate using the work of others and representing it as your own. All others’ work must be cited. I am expecting you, as Master’s students, to critically evaluate the information you discover, hence should you successfully paraphrase the work of another and cite it appropriately but do not add any critical analysis, you are likely to achieve a low mark.
Further information regarding how to write an editorial can be found in this folder.
Hague’s Ruling Against Royal Dutch Shell
Hague’s Ruling on Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian Case Could Lead to Serious Environmental Cases
On the 18th of December in the year 2015, The Hague’s appellate court mad a ruling that established the responsibility of the Royal Dutch Shell Company for the spillages of oil from its major Nigerian subsidiary. As a result of the above ruling in The Hague, there opened a significantly enormous potential for all multinational companies with operations in the oil drilling industry in the Niger Delta – including the Royal Dutch Shell – to face massive compensation claims relating to the adverse effects resulting from the spillages of oil relating to the operations of the oil mining multinationals (Escritt, 2015).
Notably, various global environmentalist groups and individuals hailed the above December ruling. Irrespective of the disappointment by the Royal Dutch Shell Company, the ruling was a major victory for all the victims of environmental pollution in the entire world (Deutsch, 2015). In the making of the above ruling, the appellate judges in The Hague ordered the Royal Dutch Shell to ensure that it avails all the necessary documents that illuminate on the oil spillage issues, that is, for the purpose of establishing both the causes as well as the extent to which its leading managers, both in the headquarters as well as in the Nigerian subsidiary, were aware of the oil spillage issues.
In the year 2013, a lower court in Netherlands made a ruling that exempted the parent company of the Royal Dutch Shell from being held liable for the oil spillages by its Nigerian subsidiary. The legal battle for which the above ruling was made, last December has come a long way. It started in the year 2008 with the campaigns started by four Nigerian farmers under the support of campaigners under the Friends of Earth umbrella (Vidal, 2015). The primary reason for the lawsuit was the adverse environmental effects resulting from the oil spillages by the Royal Dutch Shell in the Niger Delta.
During the December ruling, the judges at The Hague made it clear that it is right to take the Royal Dutch Shell in court in the Netherlands for its involvement in massive and irresponsible environmental destruction. Notably, the above case will carry on in the year 2016, but it is clear that the Royal Dutch Shell should be sure to face significant compensation charges orders according to the current proceedings of the Nigerian oil spillage case. The leading judge in the appeal court panel at The Hague, Judge Hans van der Klooster explained that the court had duly established the fact that it has a legal jurisdiction to undertake the case facing the Royal Dutch Shell as well as its other subsidiaries across the world (Chakravarti, 2015). As a result, the Nigerian subsidiary of the Royal Dutch Shell – Shell Petroleum Development Company – made a public release airing its disappointment over the stand by The Hague to assume jurisdiction over its case.
Over the years, the Royal Dutch Shell has
blamed the oil spillages in the Niger Delta over sabotage related leakages.
Under the Nigerian law, sabotage related leakages do not warrant compensation.
However, with The Hague taking over the case and ruling that it is rather too
early to agree with the sabotage assumption, there is a high possibility that
the Royal Dutch Shell will be held responsible for the leakages and thus forced
to compensate the affected victims (Rechtspraak,
2015). In light of the above, all the other oil companies in operating
in the Niger Delta as well as in other oil fields with similar spillage issues
will also face the same compensation threat as a result of the ruling in the
Meaning of The Hague’s Ruling for Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria
An appeal court in The Netherlands allowed four fishermen and farmers from Nigeria to sue the Royal Dutch Shell Company for the environmental pollution resulting from the operations of the company in the Niger Delta. Ideally, the farmers and the fishermen are in the pursuit of having the Royal Dutch Shell liable for the pollution resulting from the spillages of oil in the oil-rich but poor Niger Delta region (Phys Org, 2015). The rationale behind the lawsuit facing the Royal Dutch Shell from the Nigerian farmers and fishermen from the above region is seeking to have the above multinational to facilitate the cleaning of the oil spills, securing and maintaining the transportation pipelines that have led to the oil spills, and most importantly, to monetary compensate all the farmers and fishermen that have undergone economic losses as a result of the oil spills in the region.
Notably, the Royal Dutch Shell has successfully passed the oil spill accusations to sabotage, which according to the provisions of the Nigerian law does not validate compensation. One farmer, Erick Dooh, described his village life as miserable. According to him, he could no longer fish since the fish died. Notably, the concerns about the Royal Dutch Shell are not only from the fact that it is the biggest oil producer in Nigeria, but also from the fact that by affecting Nigeria, it affects one of the largest economies in the continent (National Daily Newspaper, 2015). For over half a century, the Royal Dutch Shell, despite constant criticisms over the oil spillages, has refused to stop neither the leakages nor carry out clean-up operations in the affected region (Aljazeera America, 2015). According to many environmentalists who have over the years backed the criticisms that cite the company’s liability over the spillages, the Royal Dutch Shell has always been in a position to prevent the disastrous oil spillages if only it implements proper maintenance measures for the pipelines used to transport the oil.
There have been hundreds of lawsuits in Nigeria about the pollution effect to the oil spillages by the Royal Dutch Shell and other oil multinationals operating in the crude oil industry in the Niger Delta. According to most environmentalists, however, it has been impossible to have any positive results of making the above multinationals – majorly the Royal Dutch Shell – liable for the adverse environmental effects caused by the oil spills as a consequence of the corruption and ineffectiveness of the legal system in Nigeria (BBC Africa, 2015). However, the ruling in December 2015 allowed the farmers to sue directly the Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands. According to the ruling, it is possible for companies to be subject to rulings of the court in their countries of origin for actions that such companies commit in foreign countries. The meaning of the above therefore is that the Royal Dutch Shell Company will be held liable in The Hague for negligence cases associated with the actions of all their overseas subsidiaries – as is in the case of Nigeria for instance (Aljazeera America, 2015).
In light of the above, the above ruling
provides hope for all the Nigerians who have suffered the consequences of the
oils spillages by the Royal Dutch Shell Company in the Niger Delta.
Additionally, the ruling will also provide a reference upon which it will be
possible for victims of such environmental damages by other companies to seek
justice and due compensation. Most importantly, the ruling will force the Royal
Dutch Shell to embrace the essence of responsible business by ensuring its
operations in Nigeria, and other parts of the world do not lead to any adverse
consequences to the surrounding community. Otherwise, the company will face
expensive legal consequences (Winter, 2015).
Aljazeera America. (2015). Amnesty: Shell has not Cleaned Up oil Spills in Nigeria. Aljazeera America. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/11/3/amnesty-shell-has-not-cleaned-nigeria-oil-spills.html
BBC Africa,. (2015). Shell Failing To Clean up Nigeria Oil Spills. BBC News. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-34707266
Chakravarti, S. (2015). Shell and the Liability Debate. Live Mint. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/ZnoLM08gUpGSwjMkUdXXLI/Shell-and-the-liability-debate.html
Deutsch, A. (2015). Dutch Appeals Court Says Shell May be Held Liable for Oil Spills in Nigeria. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/dec/18/dutch-appeals-court-shell-oil-spills-nigeria
Escritt, T. (2015). Dutch Ruling on Nigeria Could Prompt More Environmental Cases. Reuters. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKBN0U11DS20151218?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true
National Daily Newspaper,. (2015). Dutch Appellate Court’s Ruling Against Shell and Matters Arising. National Daily Newspaper. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from https://nationaldailyng.com/2015/dutch-appellate-courts-ruling-against-shell-and-matters-arising/
Phys Org. (2015). Dutch Ruling: What does it Mean for Shell in Nigeria?. Phys Org. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://phys.org/news/2015-12-dutch-shell-nigeria.html
Rechtspraak. (2015). Dutch Courts Have Jurisdiction in Case against Shell Nigeria Oil Spills. Rechtspraak. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from https://www.rechtspraak.nl/Organisatie-en-contact/Organisatie/Gerechtshoven/Gerechtshof-Den-Haag/Nieuws/Paginas/Dutch-Courts-have-jurisdiction-in-case-against-Shell-Nigeria-oil-spills.aspx
Vidal, J. (2015). Shell Announces £55m Payout for Nigeria Oil Spills. The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/07/shell-announces-55m-payout-for-nigeria-oil-spills
Winter, J. (2015). How a Poor Nigerian Town Got Shell to Pay for Major Oil Spills. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://ottawacitizen.com/news/world/beating-big-oil-how-a-poor-nigerian-town-got-shell-to-shell-out-for-major-oil-spills