Court Dismisses Businessman’s Breach Of Contract Suit Against Shipping Firm, Others

A Lagos Federal High Court, has dismissed a breach of contract suit filed by a businessman, Jovison Chukwuogu, against a shipping firm, M.V. Maersk Eindhoven and four others, for loss of his imported goods valued at N14 million.

The presiding judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo cleared MV Maersk Eindhoven and others of the plaintiff’s claims, following their counsel, Oluwatomi Taiwo’s opposition to the plaintiff’s originating summons.

M.V. Maersk Eindhoven, its Nigeria sister company, Maersk Nigeria Limited (Trading as Maerskline); Con-Truck Logistic GmbH and UGO-M Commercial Ventures Limited were listed as second to fifth defendants in the suit.

Chukwuogu, trading under the name Jovison Chukwuogu Ventures, made the claims in his amended statements of claim in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/486/2013.

He averred during examination by his lawyer, H. O Ndubuisi, that he travelled to Germany and other parts of Europe in November 2011, and bought different vehicle spare parts valued N14 million and which he loaded into a full 20 feet container.

He told the court that he took the Bill of Lading to his Clearing Agent for processing in anticipation of the arrival of the container and paid the sum of N500, 000, for that purpose.

He stated that his container did not arrive as anticipated.

He therefore sought an “order of the sum of N5 million, in his favour against the Defendants as General Damages and cost of this action”.

The defendants through Oluwatomi Taiwo prayed the court to dismiss the suit without any cost, for being frivolous.

Upholding her argument, Justice Oweibo held: “It is not in dispute that the goods did not arrive at Tin Can Island Port.

“It is also not in dispute that the goods did not arrive with the vessel because they were confiscated by the Swedish Government in collaboration with the Government of Holland at Rotterdam on 20th December, 2011.

“So what is the liability of the defendants? “It is in evidence that the goods were declared to be waste and the necessary pre-shipment approvals were not obtained.

“The fourth and fifth Defendants said that the Swedish authorities made several attempts to contact the seller to provide the necessary documents but all attempts proved abortive. The Plaintiff did not dispute this.

“The plaintiff’s argument that the contract did not envisage a stopover on any location other than the Port of Delivery, and therefore the stoppage by the first defendant at Rotterdam was a clear breach of the contract. In the light of the provisions of Clause 19 of the Bill of Lading, that argument cannot hold water.

“The first to third defendants have not been shown to have failed to deliver the shipment because of its negligence or any other act of default on their part.

“| cannot therefore hold the first to third defendants liable to the claims of the Plaintiff. The suit is accordingly dismissed.”