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  • 2015-04-27
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Rotec Engineering Ltd v. N.A.O.C.

ROTEC ENGINEERING LIMITED

V

  1. NIGERIA AGIP OIL COMPANY LTD (NAOC)
  2. CHIEF EMMANUEL OKIA

( Trading as Kodo-Lee Enterprises )

COURT OF APPEAL

( LAGOS DIVISION )

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE JCA ( Presided )

SAMUEL CHUKWUDUMEBI OSEJI JCA( Read the Lead Judgment )

ABIMBOLA OSARUGUE OBASEKI-ADEJUMO JCA

CA/L/354/2011

WEDNESDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2014

APPEAL - Findings of fact by trial court - Attitude of appellate court to

APPEAL - Primary duty of trial court to make findings of fact - Appellate court - When may interfere therewith

APPEAL - Reply brief - When necessary - New issues - Impropriety of raising therein

EVIDENCE - Admitted facts - Proof of - Needlessness of - Admission Proper approach of court to determining whether defendant’s pleadings constitute

EVIDENCE - Evaluation of - What entails - Court - Reasons for its findings - Duty on to give

TORT - Negligence - Third party injured from transaction arising from contract of two persons - Propriety of suing for - What must establish to succeed

Issues:

  1. Whether the learned trial judge made a correct approach to the pleadings of the parties by coming to the conclusion that there exist no sufficient relationship of proximity between the appellant and the respondent to create an existing duty of care.
  2. Whether the learned trial judge erred in law, when he failed to put into consideration, the 1st respondent’s admission of the negligent act, which constituted a breach of duty of care.
  3. Whether admission by the 1st respondent that there was crude oil spillage and that it pumped the spilled crude oil into the HP ramp-barge, in its amended statement of defence and witness statement on oath, needs further proof.
  4. Whether the learned trial judge directed himself properly on the preponderance of evidence, having regard to the facts placed before him, by concluding that the appellant had suffered no damages, in which case, a duty of care cannot arise, despite the 1st respondent admission of the negligent act in question.

Facts:

The appellant claimed that it entered into an agreement with the 2nd respondent under which it provided a tugboat and a ramp barge for use by the respondent who executed a contract with the 1st respondent involving conveyance of the 1st respondent’s staff, equipment and working materials to and from one of his flow stations. That sometime in 2008, the 1st respondent pumped spilled crude oil from a spillage that occured at one of its flow stations into the ramp barge and when the tugboat pulled the ramp barge with the crude oil inside, the propeller snapped, which led to the tugboat getting stuck in water for months. The appellant therefore commenced an action against the respondents for negligence. The trial court dismissed the appellant’s claims and not satisfied, it filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal, challenging the decision of the trial court that there existed no sufficient relationship of proximity between the appellant and the 1 st respondent to create an existing duty of care to render the latter liable.