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Breach of Contract: Emirates Airlines to Pay N27million Compensation


A federal high court sitting in Lagos has ordered Emirate Airlines Nigeria limited to pay the sum of N25million to NIgerian couple and their three children as general aggravated  and exemplary damages for the its negligence breach of contract and obvious maltreatment of them. 
     The court also awarded additional special compensation of N2million sought for legal fee which the couple pleaded and proved as sum paid to their lawyer.
     The judgement of the court was sequel to a suit filed before the court by a couple Mr Chinedu Oranye, his wife Mrs Taiwo Oranye and their three children, Chukwufunanya Oranye Amira Oranye, and Nasir Oranye,alleging that the unilateral cancellation of their flights by Emirates Airlines without informing them is a breach of contract on the part of the Airline.
    In amended statement of claim filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Frank Eke,The Plaintiffs averred that on the 23rd of April, 2011.they bought Emirates Airlines tickets to enable them travel from Oman via Dubai back to Lagos Nigeria thereafter on a training programme, accompanied by their three children for a programme scheduled for 16th March  2012.
     All the plaintiffs resides in Muscat but needed to travel to Nigeria on a business trip.
      The flight schedules of their tickets was to depart on 16th of March, 2012 at 10:45 am to Dubai, then from Dubai by 4:15pm to arrive Lagos at 7:55pm.
      The Plaintiffs averred that on getting to Muscat International Airport, after about 3hours journey from where they reside, they were informed that they could only fly to Dubai and wait for 2 days before they could get a connecting flight to Lagos thereafter which would be on the 18th day of March, 2012 contrary to what was indicated on their tickets.
      The information given to them caused them much psychological trauma and greatly shocked them beyond expectation as it sounds unbelievable that a  flight duly reserved and contractually confirmed without any notification to them can be cancelled despite the fact that the Airline has all the necessary information about them in Nigeria and the fact that it has their e-mail address to which it had previously forwarded mails to them being a frequent flier of the defendant's Airlines as a Skyworld member. 
       The Plaintiffs stated that they were humiliated by the Airline who did not provide alternative accommodation for them but compelled them to pay the sum of $350 Dollars for the date change of their flight to Lagos, Nigeria. 
The Plaintiffs averred that the failure and the refusal of the Airline to feed and accommodate them, when it knew from the flight ticket that they schedule to leave Dubai to Lagos on the 16th March, 2012 strengthened their conviction that the Airline still promotes and encourage shabby and discourteous treatment of its passengers which should not be found in civilized society/organisation/individuals all over the world. 
     Consequently, the Plaintiffs while claiming the sum of N 25million urged the court to declare that the unilateral cancellation of their flight by the Emirates Airlines without informing them is a breach of contract on its part 
   During the trial of the case the Plaintiffs called one witness and tendered 9 exhibits.
      However, Emirate airlines in its statement of defence denied almost all the claims of the Plaintiffs and stated that it politely explain to the Plaintiffs that the flight was rescheduled and that their travel agent Pat Elo Travels was duly informed of the new flight schedule and that their staff were never at any time discourteous to the Plaintiffs.
Consequently, the defendant contended that the Plaintiffs case is frivolous and without merit and should be dismissed with substantial costs. 
      The defendant also called one witness and tendered one exhibit.
     In  her judgement, the Presiding Judge Hadiza Shagari said "It is general rule that where a flight has been cancelled or delayed for hours, passengers are entitled to refreshment and meals in a reasonable relation to their wasting time. 
    In addition, the operating carrier will provide hotel accommodation if necessary and provide transport between the Airport and place of accommodation, passengers will be advised of the arrangement for obtaining refreshment, transportation and hotel by the carrier. Also if the flight is delayed for five hours or more the purchaser of the ticket is entitled to a refund for the part or parts of the journey not flown.
    The carrier would thus be liable for breach of contract if it fails to transport its passengers as agreed to their destination regardless of the fact that it does that in the normal course of the business, operate schedule flights to the agreed destination. 
On the whole the application of the Plaintiffs succeed in accordance with the provision of article 9.1.2,10.2.1and 10.21of the defendant conditions of carriage for passengers and baggage"
     consequent upon the foregoing, this action of the Plaintiffs succeed and claims granted. The only additional special compensation is relief sought in the sum of N2million for legal fee which is also granted, Plaintiffs have pleaded same and proved payment of the said sum to the legal firm.

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