7th July, 2011
In a bid to enforce the judgment sum of $500,000 against a British citizen, Timothy Le Breton, a fellow Briton, Michael Prest and his company, Petrodel Resources Limited, have put machinery in motion to trace him to England.
In a breach of contract suit filed before a Lagos High Court by a Lagos lawyer, Temitope Elusogbon on behalf of Petrodel Resources Limited against Le Breton, the claimant was claiming the sum of $600,000, however, the defendant did not file any defence in the suit neither did he make any representation.
The claimant called two witnesses to prove his case, while in his statement written and sworn to by the Executive Chairman of the claimant company, Petrodel Resources Limited, which was adopted as his written statement on oath, was accepted as his audience in-chief.
The summary of the case is that the defendant was appointed by Petrodel Resources Limited as the Chief Operation Officer/Managing Director on 1 February, 2005 and his responsibilities were spelt out, among which were that he is to directly report to the Executive Chairman and the Board.
However, the defendant was said to have absented himself from work without approval in January 2007 and refused to undertake his duties while he relocated from Nigeria to Monaco in spite of repeated demands, e-mails and telephone calls to resume his duties in Nigeria.
Prest alleged further that the defendant, while in the employment of his company, secretly set up and operated a director/owner of several companies in breach of the terms of his contract of employment and restrictions by and canvassing existing and prospective customers of the claimant, disclosing confidential information to third parties and hijacked business transactions and contracts of the claimant. He was also said to have canvassed and solicited key suppliers of goods and services of the claimant to some companies, took up appointment as a director of Ayedan Global Limited, Snowden, Lanaza and I-Loaded between 2006 and 2008, earning remunerations and allowances from the said companies when he was in the employment of the claimant.
The particulars of breach of confidentiality and particulars of misstatements and manipulation of the companyâ€™s accounts were set out.
The chartered accountant of the claimant, Joyce Bassey, also adopted her deposition on oath as her evidence in-chief when the defendant failed to appear,making the claimant to urge the court to award damages for breach of contract.
Elusogbon cited several cases on the principles of law for award of general and special damages and urged the court to enter judgment in favour of the claimant.
In her judgement, Justice Morenike Obadina said the claimant is entitled to an award of general damages for breach of contract of employment.
She cited series of legal authorities to justify her position.
In the final analysis, she said â€œI hold that the claimant is entitled to general damages for breach of contract which covers the unearned salaries and allowances, breach of convenient of restriction and confidentiality misstatement and manipulation of accounts which resulted into loss to the defendant.
“I award to the claimant $500,000 as general damages or its equivalent in naira. I also award to the claimant interest on this sum at the rate of 10 per cent per annum from the date of this judgment until final liquidation. “I also award to the claimant N100,000 cost of this action in view of the several processes served on the defendant through courier service.â€