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MONDINVEST LIMITED v. DREDGING ENVIRONMENTAL AND MARINE NV

(2018) LPELR-44727(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Monday, the 25th day of June, 2018

CA/L/531/2016


Before Their Lordships

MOHAMMED LAWAL GARBA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

JOSEPH SHAGBAOR IKYEGH Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

MONDINVEST LIMITED - Appellant(s)

AND

DREGING ENVIRONMENTAL AND MARINE NV (OWNERS OF THE MV "BREUGHEL", SISTER VESSEL TO THE MV "Congo River") - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Admiralty Law.
FACTS:
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered on the 16th day of February, 2016 in suit No: FHC/L/CS/1611/2015 wherein the Court limited the liability of the Respondent.

The Appellant commenced an admiralty action in rem against the vessel "M.V BREUGHEL" and sister vessel, the M.V CONGO RIVER before the Federal High Court, Lagos seeking various reliefs which are principally damages for the damage done to its property including the sum of N700million and N3 billion general damages.

???By the nature of the action, the vessel was arrested and detained until a bank guarantee in the sum of N3.7 billion was posted for her release while the matter was set down for determining the liability of the vessel on the merit in SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/1329/2015. The Respondents immediately by an originating summons commenced Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1611/2015 seeking to limit its liability as owners of the offending vessels under Section 351 of the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act 2007. The originating summons was opposed and upon determination, the Court below granted the relief sought by the Respondents and limited the liability of the Respondent and ordered the creation of a limitation fund in favour of the Respondent for alleged damage caused the Appellant's property and parties unknown to the Court for the project and capped the amount to $5,251,926.23 (Five Million Two Hundred and Fifty one Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty six Dollars and Twenty Three cents) or its naira equivalent.

The Appellant felt aggrieved thus he appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal based on the following issues for determination:
"a. Whether the learned trial judge was right in holding that the Respondents was entitled to limit its liability as the Appellant had failed to prove existence of the conditions specified in Section 354 of the Merchant Shipping Act 2007?
b. Whether the learned trial judge was correct in its decision that the Respondent was entitled to limit its liability for losses or damage arising from the Respondent's dredging works in furtherance of the Eko Atlantic City which is still ongoing?
c. Whether the learned trial judge was correct in holding that the M.V. Breughel being a dredger from the requirements?"

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court of Appeal held that the appeal was unmeritorious and it was dismissed. The decision of the Federal High Court delivered on the 16th day of February, 2016 by HON. JUSTICE BUBA was accordingly affirmed.




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