ExxonMobil Appeals Ruling on Territorial Jurisdiction

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ExxonMobil Corporation has appealed the ruling of Justice O A. Obaseki-Osaghae of the National Industrial Court in Lagos which held that the corporation can be sued in Nigeria.

Ruling in the application filed to stop joining of Exxon Mobil Corporation in a suit challenging alleged unlawful retirement of Mr. Paul Arinze from Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Justice Obaseki-Osaghae held that the corporation is a necessary party to the suit and must be properly joined by the claimant.

But dissatisfied, ExxonMobil Corporation has approached the Court of Appeal in Lagos, seeking leave to appeal against the decision.

The corporation said it has strong grounds to believe that the Court of Appeal would upturn the decision of the lower court.

It contended amongst others that the lower court erred when it held that a co-employment relationship existed between ExxonMobil and Arinze (the 1st respondent) without recourse or reference to any extant contract of employment between the parties.

It added that it is only the State High Court that has the exclusive jurisdiction to hear matters arising out of the interpretation and enforcement of a simple contract.

The case started when Arinze, a staff of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) challenged his retirement from the oil company.

In a suit he filed, he joined MPN and Exxon Mobil Corporation as the first and second defendants respectively.

ExxonMobil Corporation is an American oil giant and parent company of MPN.

But ExxonMobil sought an order of the court order to strike out the corporation’s name from the suit.

Its counsel, Professor Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), argued that the reliefs sought by the claimant against Exxon Mobil could not be granted since the company was neither incorporated in Nigeria nor carried out its business in the country.

But Arinze’s lawyer, Emeka Ozoani (SAN) rejected his argument, insisting that ExxonMobil was not a stranger to the employment of his client and that the claimant could sue it for any liability arising from any default or wrong done to him in the course of his employment.