Oil giant Shell appeared in a court in The Hague on Thursday for charges of polluting Nigerian villages in the Niger Delta region.
It is the first time in history that a Dutch multinational company faces trial in a civil court for environmental damage abroad.
The case is being brought by four farmers in Nigeria, in cooperation with the Dutch branch of environmental organization Friends of the Earth.
The farmers claimed their farmlands and drinking water had been destroyed and demanded damage restitution and the cleanup of oil pollution in their towns.
The Anglo-Dutch oil company has insisted it has been unable to clean up the spills due to insecurity and said more than half of the leaks are caused by sabotage and theft.
In the past four years, Shell has continuously claimed that the Dutch court should not be authorized to judge upon Shell Nigeria, which is a daughter company of Royal Dutch Shell.
But the court in The Hague decided that the case should be treated in the Netherlands.