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Case details

Jalla and another (Appellants) v Shell International Trading and Shipping Company and another (Respondents)

Case ID: 2021/0050

Case summary

Issue

When an event causes permanent or very long-lasting pollution and toxicity with ongoing or fresh damage or impacts, is that a continuing nuisance with fresh causes of action accruing until such time as the pollution is cleared up, or it eventually disappears of its own accord, in circumstances where the event causing the pollution occurs only once?

Facts

At the Bonga oil field, 120km off the coast of Nigeria, Shell extracts oil using a mobile oil rig. The oil is sent from the mobile rig, via submersible flexible flow lines, to a mooring buoy and is then loaded onto oil tankers. On 20 December 2011, there was a leak from one of the flexible flowlines between the rig and mooring buoy while oil was being transferred onto a ship (the ‘Spill’). The Spill comprised at least 40,000 barrels and was one of the largest spills in Nigerian oil exploration history.

The Claimants/Appellants allege that oil from the Spill has devastated their shoreline and communities and caused, and continues to cause, serious and widespread damage to their land and water supplies. Because the claims against the first Respondent, STASCO, were commenced outside the limitation period for claims in nuisance, the claim would be barred unless it involved a ‘continuing nuisance’. The High Court held that the nuisance alleged by the Claimants could not constitute a continuing nuisance and thereby extend the limitation period. The Claimants appealed to the Court of Appeal, who dismissed the appeal. The Claimants now appeal to the Supreme Court.

Judgment appealed

[2021] EWCA 63

Parties

Appellant(s)

Harrison Omotsola Jalla and others

Respondent(s)

Shell International Trading and Shipping Company and another

Appeal

Justices

Lord Reed, Lord Hodge, Lord Briggs, Lord Kitchin, Lord Burrows

Hearing start date

29 March 2023

Hearing finish date

30 March 2023