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Robertson Group Plc vs. Geo Group Ltd.

ROBERTSON GROUP PLC

V

GEO GROUP LIMITED

COURT OF APPEAL

( BENIN DIVISION )

RAPHAEL OLUFEMI ROWLAND,  JCA ( Presided )

BABA ALKALI BA’ABA, JCA

KUMAI BAYANG AKAAHS, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/B/206/98

MONDAY, 17TH JUNE, 2002

COURT - Security for costs - When to be ordered - Principles guiding exercise of court’s discretion to so order - Need to exercise discretion judicially and judiciously

COURT - Security to answer and satisfy any judgment that may be passed against a defendant - When such order required by plaintiff against defendant - What must be proved - Order 15, rule 1, Edo State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1988

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Discretion - Exercise of discretion on wrong principles of law - How treated

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Discretion to order security for cost Need to do so judicially and judiciously

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Security for costs - When to be ordered -  Principles guiding exercise of court’s discretion to so order - Need to exercise discretion judicially and judiciously

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE -  Security to answer and satisfy any judgment that may be passed against a defendant - When such

order required by plaintiff against defendant - What must be proved - Order 15, rule 1, Edo State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1988

Issues:

1.            Whether the decision contained in the ruling of the trial Judge directing the appellant to deposit the sum of N5,000,000 with the Chief Registrar of the High Court of Justice, Benin City for purposes of ensuring Appellant’s appearance to satisfy any judgement that may be passed against it in this suit was properly made under Order 15, rule 1 of the Edo State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1988.

2.            Whether a defendant’s failure to appear to a proceedings in person makes him an absconding defendant within the meaning of the provisions of Order 15, rule 1 of the Edo State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1988 notwithstanding his appearance through counsel.

Facts:

The parties in this appeal, before the institution of the suit at the Edo State High Court, had entered into a joint venture agreement to provide petroleum support services to companies in the petroleum industry in Nigeria. The appellant, however pulled out of the said agreement. After instituting a civil action against the appellant herein as defendant, the respondent herein as plaintiff at the Edo State High Court, Benin brought an application before the lower court requiring the defendant/appellant to deposit the sum of N10 million as security for purposes of securing the appearance of the defendant/appellant to answer and satisfy any judgment that may be passed against it. However, counsel argued for the defendant/ appellant that it is a United Kingdom based company; has never been within the jurisdiction and does not have assets within the jurisdiction which it could have removed or attempted to remove from the jurisdiction of the lower court.

The court however granted the application of the plaintiff/respondent and further made an order directing the defendant/appellant to deposit the sum of N5,000,000 with the Chief Registrar of the lower court within 45 days of the order and the sum to be kept in an interest yielding account with Union Bank Plc in Benin City.

Being dissatisfied with the ruling, the defendant/appellant brought this appeal. The Court of Appeal considered Order 15, rule 1 of the Bendel ( now Edo) State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1988 which provides :

“15(1) If in any suit for an amount or value of one thousand naira or upwards the defendant is about to leave the jurisdiction of the

court, or has disposed of or removed from the jurisdiction, his property, or any part thereof, or is about to do so, the plaintiff may, either at the institution of the suit or at any time thereafter until final judgment, make an application to the court that security be taken for the appearance of the defendant to answer and satisfy any judgment that may be passed against him in the suit.”