DENCA SERVICES LIMITED
CROSS MARINE SERVICES LIMITED
COURT OF APPEAL
( LAGOS DIVISION )
ATINUKE OMOBONIKE IGE, JCA (Presided)
CHRISTOPHER MITCHEL CHUKWUMA-ENEH, JCA
AMIRU SANUSI, JCA (Read the Lead Judgment)
21ST JUNE, 2001
ADMIRALTY - Admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal High Court - Claim
thereunder - Nature of goods covered thereby
- Demurrage - Claim for - What court must consider
ADMIRALTY - Demurrage - Claim for - Whether can be entertained by the
Federal High Court pursuant to section 7, Federal High Court ( Amendment) Decree No. 60 of 1991
- Whether demurrage should form part of shipping agreement
- Demurrage - Meaning of
- Shipping - Meaning of
HEARING - Principle governing - Section 33 (1), 1979 constitution FAIR HEARING
- Right to fair hearing - Waiver of - Effect
PRECEDENT - Decisions of higher court - Bindingness of -
- Jurisdiction of court - Conditions therefor
Denca Services Ltd. vs. Cross
Marine Services Ltd.
JURISDICTION - Jurisdiction of court - How determined - What court must
AND PROCEDURE - Non - appearance of party - Duty of
High Court in respect of - Failure to discharge - Effect Order 39 rule 3
Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Service of court process - Duty of court to
ascertain -Failure thereto - Effect
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Service of court process - Duty of parties to
inform court of service - Non-appearance of person allegedly served - Attitude
of court thereto
AND PHRASES - â€˜Demurrageâ€™ - Meaning of
AND PHRASES - â€˜Shippingâ€™ - Meaning of
Whether the Federal High Court was right in assuming
jurisdiction over a claim for detention and loss of use of goods off-loaded
from a ship.
Whether the Federal High Court was right in striking
out the appellantâ€™s motion for stay of proceedings for want of diligent
The appellant, a
clearing agent, cleared and took delivery of a consignment, it failed to return
the respondentâ€™s container and to pay any demurrage for the detention or use of
the said container.
sued the appellant at the Federal High Court, claiming, inter alia, damages for demurrage and return of the container.
challenged the jurisdiction of the trial court to entertain the claim, which
the court overruled.
appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal and filed an application for stay of
proceedings at the Federal High Court while the appeal was pending, and in the
absence of the defendant, the motion for stay of proceedings pending the
determination of the interlocutory appeal was struck out.
The court then,
after the plaintiff closed its case, delivered a reserved judgment in favour of
the respondent. The respondent appealed against the judgment.
The Court of
Appeal, in resolving the appeal, construed the following provisions:-
Federal High Court (Amendment)
Decree No. 60 of 1991:
â€œThe court (the Federal High Court) shall to the exclusion of any other court
have original jurisdiction to try any cause or matters connected with or
pertaining to any admiralty matters, including shipping and navigation on the River
Niger or River Benue and their affluent and such other inland waterways as may
be designated by any enactment to be an international waterway, all Federal
Ports including the constitutional powers of the Ports Authorities for Federal
Ports and carriage by seaâ€.
Section 2(3). â€œWhere
jurisdiction is conferred upon the court under subsection (1)(2) of this
section, such jurisdiction shall be construed to include jurisdiction to hear
and determine all issues relating to, arising from and ancillary to such subject
matter.â€ Admiralty Jurisdiction Decree No. 59 of 1991
â€œ1(1). The admiralty jurisdiction of Federal High Court (On this Decree
referred to as the court) includes the following, that is:
jurisdiction to hear and determine any question
relating to a proprietary interest in a ship or aircraft or any maritime claim
specified in section 2 of this Decree.
any other admiralty jurisdiction being exercised by any
other court in Nigeria immediately before the commencement of this Decree
any jurisdiction connected with any ship or aircraft
which is vested in any other court in Nigeria immediately before the
commencement of this Decree.
reference in this Decree to a maritime claim is a reference to a propriety
maritime claim or a general maritime claim.
admiralty jurisdiction of the court in respect of carriage, and delivery of
goods extends from the time the goods are placed on board a ship for the
purpose of shipping to the time the goods are delivered to the consignee or
whoever is to receive them; whether the goods were transported on land during
the process or not, maritime claim is a reference to
a claim for loss of damage to good carried by a ship
a claim out of an agreement relating to carriage of
goods or persons by a ship or to the use of hire of a ship whether charter
party or otherwise
a claim in respect of a liability for port, harbour,
Ltd. vs. Cross Marine Services Ltd.
canal or light tolls charges or
duties or tolls, charges or dues of any kind in relation to anship ( ?).â€
reference in this Decree to a general maritime claim as a reference to:
a claim out of an agreement relating to the carriage of
goods or persons by ship or to the use or hire of a ship whether by charter or