The UK Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear if two communities, of about 42,000 people in Nigeria, can sue Royal Dutch Shell for compensation over pollution from oil spills.
The people, from two ethnic groups, Bille and Ogale, have been refused permission by the High Court in London to seek redress in a British court.
But their lawyers will argue that a decision in a case involving a London-based mining company and villagers in Zambia has set a legal precedent in their favour.
The two communities in the Niger Delta say they have suffered pollution for many years from pipelines operated by Shell’s local subsidiary.
Their lawyers will try to convince five UK Supreme Court justices that the Nigerians should be allowed to have their case heard in London, based on a judgement last year.
In April 2019 the court ruled that the British-based mining company Vedanta Resources could be liable for pollution, caused by its KCM subsidiary in Zambia and a claim for compensation could be presented in London.
Royal Dutch Shell insists the British courts do not have jurisdiction.
The UK Supreme Court will not consider the merits of the claim for compensation, but rule on whether the Nigerian communities can have their case heard in London.