On 29 May 2009, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal delivered a landmark decision regarding an international collective settlement of mass claims. This decision is the first international application of a mechanism under Dutch law that facilitates collective settlements of mass claims. The vast majority of the potential claimants in this case did not reside in the Netherlands and were spread across the globe.
This case concerned a settlement agreement entered into by, among others, Shell Petroleum N.V. and The “Shell” Transport and Trading Company Limited (collectively: “Shell”) with respect to the recategorisation of certain of its oil and gas reserves in 2004. The settlement agreement was entered into for the benefit of the worldwide group of Shell’s shareholders, excluding all US shareholders, who purchased their shares in the period between 8 April 1999 and 18 March 2004 on any stock exchange other than the New York Stock Exchange. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal has now declared this settlement agreement binding on all shareholders to which it applies according to its terms. De Brauw acted as legal counsel to Shell in this matter.