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Breach of contract: Supreme Court affirms judgment against Emirates Airlines

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By Henry Ojelu

The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the Federal High Court in Lagos which awarded a N2.5million judgment against Emirates Airlines over the refusal of boarding on a valid flight ticket of a US based Nigerian student Promise Mekwunye.

File: Supreme Court

Miss Mekwunye who was then a student of North Texas University, Denton, Texas USA had in 2008 dragged the airline to court for refusal of boarding on her two-way flight ticket from Dallas to Nigeria and back for no reason and for further refusing to fully refund the cost of the  ticket of American Airline she bought to come back to Nigeria.

In the suit before the Federal High Court, Mekunye claimed that she had bought the airline return ticket for  $2,067  on May 2007 but upon presentation of the ticket for issuance of boarding pass in December, 2007 she was denied boarding.

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She further claimed that the airline offered no reason for its action leaving her stranded for days at the airport until she was able to secure a more expensive flight ticket on a longer route to Lagos.

She prayed the court to order the airline to refund the full cost of her American Airline ticket and to pay for damages she suffered as a result of the ordeal.

In its judgment delivered on November 15, 2010, the Federal High Court held that the refusal of Emirates Airline to carry Mekwunye amounted to a breach of contract of carriage.   Consequently, the court ordered full refund of ticket without any deduction or charge, and further granted N2.5 million in general damages and N250, 000 in legal costs against the airline.

Not pleased with the court’s decision, Emirate Airline appealed the judgment  before the Court of Appeal Lagos. The airline contended that the trial Judge erred in law when he awarded N250, 000.00 in legal fees when the plaintiff claimed 1,000,000.00 but led no evidence.

In its judgment of April 11, 2014, the Court of Appeal upheld the airline’s appeal and upturned the award of N250,000 and N2.5million earlier awarded to Mekwunye by the lower court.

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