AGENCY: Scope of liability of an agent in Admiralty matters  


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17/07/2018 4:05 pm  

"On Appellant's issue two, the contention is that the Respondent was on illegal operations for want of relevant licenses, permit and an Environmental Impact Assessment Report. It was made out even in the judgment appealed against that licenses, permit were to be procured by the employer since the Respondent was engaged to dredge for Eko Atlantic Project which has Lagos State government partnership. The Court below explained it away in the context of agent of a disclosed principal and therefore, the Respondent is not liable. Here I disagree with the Court below and align partially with the Appellant. The relationship between the Respondent is purely contractual and not a mere or simple agent of a disclosed principal case. Nigerian laws are flouted and it cannot be excused by their claim of being agents of a disclosed principal. It is the duty of the Respondents to be in possession of all relevant permits before commencing the project. Respondents were engaged pursuant to a contract, it is a contractual relationship for profit. It is not a servant master relationship but engaged to carry out the job without instructions on day to day duties from the Appellant so there is no agency in this situation, see A.C.B. LIMITED V APUGO (1995) 6 NWLR (Pt. 399) 65 at 83 which held thus: "An independent contractor is one who undertakes to produce a given result, but so that in the actual execution of the work he is not under the order or control of the person from whom he does it and may use him own discretion in things not specified before hand. The test of the distinction between an agent and an independent contractor is the existence of a right of control over an agent in respect of the manner in which his duty is to be done. A servant is an agent who works under the supervision and direction of his employer but independent contractor is one who is his own master. It is also settled that an agent can be liable even when there is a disclosed principal, see BRONWEN ENERGY TRADING LIMITED V OAN OVERSEAS AGENECY NIGERIA (2014) LPELR-24111(CA) and THE M.V. CAROLINE MAERSK & ORS V NOKOY INVESTMENT LTD (2002) LPELR- 3182 (SC)."



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