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Lawson-Jack v. S.P.D.C. (Nig.) Ltd

STEPHEN LAWSON-JACK

V

THE SHELL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY OF NIGERIA LIMITED

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

ABUBAKAR BASHIR WALI, JSC ( Presided )

MICHAEL EKUNDAYO OGUNDARE, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

EMANUEL OBIOMA OGWUEGBU, JSC

ANTHONY IKECHUKWU IGUH, JSC

EMMANUEL OLAYINKA AYOOLA, JSC

SC. 54/1998

FRIDAY, 12TH JULY, 2002

APPEAL - Decision of Court of Appeal on an interlocutory appeal - Right of appeal which accrued on 19th March 1998 in respect of  - Whether section 1 of Constitution (Amendment) Decree No. 3 of 1998 in force from 20th March 1998 has retrospective effect thereon

COURT - Court of Appeal - Decision of on interlocutory appeal - Right of appeal which accrued on 19th March 1998 in respect of  - Whether section 1 of the Constitution (Amendment) Decree No. 3 of 1998 in force from 20th March 1998 has retrospective effect thereon

COURT - Supreme Court - Compliance by parties with Rules thereof Discretion of to waive same - Supreme Court Rules, Order 10 rule 1(1)  and  2

EVIDENCE - Affidavit - Uncontroverted paragraphs thereof - Effect of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Discontinuance of plaintiff’s action Where discontinued without the consent of defendant - Effect of Whether outstanding issues as to cost and damages due to defendant can be determined by court

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Supreme Court Rules - Compliance by parties therewith -Discretion of Supreme Court to waive same Supreme Court Rules, Order 10 rule 1(1) and 2

Issues:

1.            Whether the Court of Appeal was justified in taking into consideration very extraneous matters not forming part of the records or counsel submissions before it, without more, in resolving the question whether or not there was evidence of an appeal before it.

2.            Whether the Court of Appeal was justified in holding that there indeed was a lis when the suit upon which an injunction was made pending has ceased to exist 21 days after the injunction.

Facts:

The appellant herein as plaintiff was a former employee of the defendant company. There was allegation of misconduct made against him in consequence of which the company set up a panel to investigate the allegation. The panel had not finished its investigation when the plaintiff filed this suit against the defendant restraining it from interfering with his contract of employment. Along with the writ of summons, the plaintiff filed an ex-parte application for interim injunction. The interim injunction was however granted. Subsequently, the court heard argument from both parties on the motion on notice and granted the plaintiff’s interlocutory injunction as prayed.

The defendant appealed to the Court of Appeal against the said order of an interlocutory injunction and filed an application that the appeal be heard without brief. The plaintiff did not file a counter-affidavit challenging the correctness of the depositions in the said defendant’s affidavit the application was granted. Pursuant to the order of Court of Appeal, the plaintiff filed a notice of discontinuance of his action at the High Court. At the hearing of the appeal, plaintiff raised a preliminary objection to the appeal on the grounds inter alia that there was no evidence that the appeal was filed at the trial court; that all the grounds of appeal was of mixed law and fact and no leave was sought or obtained before the appeal was lodged, it being an interlocutory appeal. The Court of Appeal at the conclusion of hearing overruled the preliminary objection, allowed the defendant’s appeal and set aside all the orders made in the ruling of the trial court.

Aggrieved, the plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court.