Contract breach: US-based Nigerian student wins case against Emirate Airline
By OLA AGBAJE
Monday, December 27, 2010
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered Emirate Airlines to pay a United States-based Nigerian female student, Promise Mekwunye, a sum of N2,750,000 (two million, seven hundred and fifty thousand naira) over breach of air carriage contract.
Besides the general damages and legal fees awarded against the airline, the trial judge, Justice Charles Achibong, also ordered the defendant to refund fully to the plaintiff the sum of $3,200, being cost of the air travel ticket purchased from the defendant by the plaintiff to enable her travel to Nigeria sometime in 2007.
Specifically, the return ticket, purchased by the plaintiff through her attorney from the defendant?s office in Dallas, to travel through Dallas-Houston-Dubai-Lagos, was bought in May, 2007 for her homecoming in December 2007 for Christmas.
The court found the defendant culpable in the breach of contract for denying her boarding the aircraft on the day she had wanted to begin her journey to Nigeria, which forced her to purchase another ticket from another airline.
?I find as fact that the plaintiff had a contract of international carriage with the defendant, which contract is governed by the relevant conventions domesticated by our Civil Aviation Act of 2006. ?I find as fact that the particular contract of carriage was underpinned by the conditions of carriage of passengers and baggage of the defendant airline. I find as fact that the plaintiff?s agent, Simba Travel and Tour Limited, made a reservation for the plaintiff to depart to Dallas on the defendant?s flight on December 17, 2007,? the court held.
The court rejected in entirety the defence of the defendant that the cancellation of the plaintiff?s reservation was due to failure to confirm her ticket and further held that the ticket was indeed confirmed. Consequently, the court held that the defendant?s refusal to carry the plaintiff from Dallas on December 17, 2007 amounted to a breach of its contract of carriage with the Plaintiff.
However, following alleged refusal of the defendant to obey the judgment on time, the plaintiff?s counsel, Paul Okoh, in a letter sent to the airline warned the defendant of serious legal action if it continued to delay in complying with the order of the court.