The United Kingdom Supreme Court has ruled in favour of British multinational oil and gas company, Shell, on the grounds that it was too late for Nigerian claimants to sue its two subsidiaries over a 2011 offshore oil spill.

A group of 27,800 individuals and 457 communities had dragged the company to court over a 2011 crude oil leak which Shell insisted was dispersed offshore and did not have adverse effects on the shoreline.

But a panel of five Supreme Court justices unanimously upheld rulings by two lower courts that found that the claimants had brought their case after the expiry of a six-year legal deadline for taking action.

The claimants’ lawyers had argued that the ongoing consequences of the pollution represented a continuing nuisance, which would have meant the deadline did not apply.

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