NICN/LA/611/2012 – PETER YINKORE & 73 ORS V. NECONDE ENERGY LTD & S.P.D.C.
In one of the biggest labour related matters with a claim of almost N71, 465,258,143.00 from about 74 Claimants in Nigeria, the National Industrial Court, Lagos division has come to a conclusion that employee making a claim in an employment or labour case has the burden of proving his entitlement to the claim and the quantum of his claim in terms of how he came by the said claim. To prove an entitlement, the employee must refer the Court to the exact provisions of the law, instrument or document that conferred that entitlement. To prove the quantum of sums claimed, the rule regarding proof of special damages must be adhered to because the claims for entitlements and/or benefits, being monetary sums is a claim for special damages and must be claimed specifically and proved strictly.
Alliance Law Firm represented the 1st Defendant, Neconde Energy Limited. The Claimants instituted the action against the 1st Defendant for alleged breach of Contract of employment on the ground that there is a guaranteed two years employment for them and as such they are entitled to the sum of N71, 465,258,143.00 collectively as their salaries and emoluments for two years, notwithstanding the fact the Claimants’ employment were terminated three months after their employment. The 1st Defendant argued that the claims of the Claimants are not backed up by any contractual agreement between the parties as the instrument that regulate their relationship is their contract of employment and no more. The 1st Defendant further argued that Courts are not allowed to make or re – write agreements between the parties or to change their agreement as made. Where a document is clear and the wordings of any agreement are free from ambiguity in themselves, the only duty of the Court is to interpret those clauses written in contractual document in their simple and ordinary grammatical meaning.
The Claimants also claimed against the 2nd Defendant, SPDC to pay to the claimants the Selected Voluntary Severance Package benefits being 14% to 35% of their annual basic salary for the period left un-served up to a maximum of 25 years of their tenure of employment which should continue until they are sixty years old.
In a well considered judgment, the court dismissed the entire claims of the Claimants against the Defendants for lacking in merit on the ground that there was no clause in their employment contract guaranteeing the Claimants two years employment.
Social media content – Alliance Law Firm is happy to have represented Neconde Energy Limited in the instant case where the Court held that the entire reliefs sought by the over 100 claimants in the largest labour claim in Nigeria lacked merit and subsequently dismissed their suit.