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(2017) LPELR-42588(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 30th day of June, 2017


Before Their Lordships

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


EJEMBI EKO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria




JAMILAT ALOMA - Respondent(s)

Other Citations

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This appeal borders on civil procedure.

This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division dismissing the appellant's appeal for want of prosecution and affirming the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting at Lagos in favour of the respondent.

The dispute between the appellant and the respondent arose from an alleged breach of a contract for international carriage by air. The respondent purchased two tickets from the appellant on 21/9//999 for a combined journey which was routed as follows: LAGOS - AMSTERDAM - LONDON - MILAN - AMSTERDAM - LAGOS. The first leg of the journey from Lagos through to Milan went without a hitch. However, on her return journey she alleged that she was prevented from boarding the Milan - Amsterdam flight and instead, after several hours of delay, was put on an Alitalia flight from Milan direct to Lagos. As a result she missed some important business meetings and shopping, which she had scheduled to do in Amsterdam. She arrived in Lagos two hours before the Amsterdam flight but her luggage was not on the flight. She completed necessary forms to make a claim for her lost luggage and eventually one of her bags was returned to her. The second piece of luggage was not found.

Consequently by a writ of summons filed on 23/12/1999 before the Federal High Court in Lagos, she sought the following reliefs against the appellant as defendant:
"1. The sum of $7,765.00 (Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixty Five US Dollars), ??8,550.00 (Eight Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty pounds) and Lira 4,405,000.00 (Four Million Four Hundred and Five Thousand Lira) being the value of the goods and properties contained in the Plaintiffs baggage, which was lost by the defendant and whose total equivalent in Naira is N3,907,200.00 (Three Million, Nine Hundred and Seven Thousand, Two Hundred Naira).
2. The sum of $1, 838.25 or N187, 501.00 being the cost of return air ticket from Lagos to Amsterdam to Lagos which the plaintiff lost as a result of the defendants unilateral decision to prevent the plaintiff from stopping over at Amsterdam.
3. The sum of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) as damages for loss of expected profit and business goodwill in Amsterdam occasioned by the unilateral act of the defendant.
4. The sum of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) as damages for the defendants violation of the plaintiffs fundamental rights, false imprisonment and violation of human dignity.
Interest on the above sums at the rate of 21% per annum from 15th October 1999 up till judgment and thereafter at the rate of 10% per annum until final liquidation.
Costs of the action."

???The writ was accompanied by a 33-paragraph statement of claim. The appellant as defendant upon receipt of the processes filed a statement of defence but did not adduce any evidence at the trial. The respondent on her part testified and tendered documents, which were admitted in evidence in support of her claim. After numerous adjournments to enable the appellant open its defence, it failed to do so. Its case was closed and on 25/9/2003 judgment was entered in favour of the respondent Reliefs 1 and 2 were granted as prayed. In respect of reliefs 3 and 4 she was granted N1,000,000.00 each. The claim for interest was granted as prayed with costs of N10,000.00 awarded in her favour.

The appellant was aggrieved with the decision and appealed against it to the Court of Appeal, which on 15/11/2007 dismissed the appeal. The ground upon which the appeal was dismissed was that the appellant failed to proffer argument in respect of the two issues it formulated but rather abandoned them and argued 8 sub-issues. It is the appellant's dissatisfaction with the decision of the Court of Appeal that has given rise to the instant appeal.

The Court determined the the appeal on the sole issue as follows:
"Whether the Court of Appeal was correct to dismiss the appeal on the ground that arguments had been marshalled in a manner that it found inelegant."

???On the whole, the Court found merit in the appeal. It was thereby allowed. The judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division delivered on 15/11/2007 was thereby set aside. It was ordered that the appeal should be remitted to the President of the Court of Appeal for expeditious hearing by a different panel of Justices.

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