A Dutch appeals court has ruled that the Nigerian branch of oil giant Shell is responsible for damage caused by 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.
A group of farmers launched the case in 2008, alleging widespread pollution.
Shell says the leaks were the result of “sabotage”.
In a statement on Friday, Royal Dutch Shell said it was “disappointed” with the verdict.
The ruling can be appealed against.
The court said Shell had not proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that saboteurs were responsible for the leaks affecting the villages of Goi and Oruma, rather than poor maintenance.
“This makes Shell Nigeria responsible for the damage caused by the leaks” in these areas, it said. It added that the amount of compensation would be “determined at a later stage”.