N170M SUIT: APPEAL COURT THROWS OUT BRITISH GAS' APPEAL

By NBF News
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The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Thursday threw out an appeal by the British Gas Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, challenging the ruling of a Lagos High Court in a N170m suit by a former employee of the firm, Mr. Kehinde Johnson.

In a ruling delivered by a Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Clara-Bata Ogunjobi (presiding), the appellate court held that the notice of appeal by the exploration firm was incompetent.

The appellate court further held that the appeal filed by the British Gas against the ruling of the lower court ought not to have been brought before the court in the first place, insisting that the application had to be dismissed with substantial costs.

The ruling of the appellate court was sequel to an application by Johnson against the British Gas' appeal, asking it to dismiss the appeal for being frivolous and time wasting.

Justice Raliatu Adebiyi of a Lagos High Court had on May 25, 2009, dismissed an application by British Gas, asking the lower court to dismiss Johnson's suit on the grounds that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it just as it claimed that the cause of action was not tenable in Nigeria and was a trade dispute.

But the lower court had in its verdict, held that while it was evident that the claimant's damages arose from alleged constructive dismissal which was not contained in the Labour Act 1971, it, however, held that Johnson's employment was governed by a contract of employment.

It added that the alleged breach of contract was subject to interpretation of the court.

Justice Adebiyi said, 'To find at this stage of the proceedings without taking oral evidence that the claimant's claims are not tenable would be premature and amount to a denial of fair hearing of the claimant's claim.'

'For this reason, the defendant's application fails in its entirety and it is hereby dismissed.'