A Dutch appeal court has ruled that the Nigerian arm of Royal Dutch Shell, a British-Dutch oil company, pay for damages caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta.
Four farmers had sued Shell for oil spills that they say caused widespread pollution of the land.
The farmers sued Shell in 2008 for oil spills in their villages Goi, Oruma and Ikot Ada Udo.
The farmers’ case was backed by Friends of the Earth, an environmental group.
Shell argued in court that the leaks were caused by saboteurs.
However, the court ruled that the oil company did not prove beyond reasonable doubts that other parties were responsible for the leaks rather than poor maintenance.
“This makes Shell Nigeria responsible for the damage caused by the leaks” in the villages of Goi and Oruma, the court said.
It also ordered Shell to install leak detection systems on pipelines to avoid environmental pollution in the future.
The amount of compensation would be “determined at a later stage”.
Reacting to the judgement, Shell said it was “disappointed” adding that it continues to “believe that the spills in Oruma and Goi were the result of sabotage”.
The ruling can be appealed.