14 February 2014, Lagos – A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos and presided over by Justice MB Idris has struck out an application filed by Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL) for stay of proceedings of the substantive suit filed by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, pending the determination of GWVSL’s appeal against the High Court’s earlier decision that it (GWVSL) is a necessary party to the substantive suit.
The suit with reference Number FHC/L/CS/847/2013 was brought by NLNG against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Global West Vessel Specialists Limited (GWVSL).
The matter came up on Monday for ruling on the application of GWVSL for stay of proceedings at the high court, pending the hearing and determination of GWVSL’s appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos, against the ruling of the high court delivered on July 12, 2013 that GWVSL is a necessary party to the substantive suit.
In his ruling, the presiding judge held that stay of proceedings is not a right but a privilege exercised at the court’s discretion, which discretion must be exercised judiciously and judicially in the interest of justice for all.
Justice Idris also held that since stay of proceedings is the antithesis of a speedy trial, care must be taken in granting or refusing it.
According to the presiding Judge, to be entitled to stay of proceedings, an applicant must be in obedience of necessary rules of court, in the instant case, the record of proceedings to be transmitted to the appeal court must be compiled within the time allowed by the rules.
The court held that GWVSL having failed to do this, the application is incompetent and procedurally flawed.
The court therefore proceeded to strike out the application with N10, 000.00 cost in favour of NLNG Limited.
After the above ruling, Mr. O. Osobi, who represented NLNG’s counsel, Mr. Abiodun Layonu (SAN), made an oral application for the court to also strike out the pending application for joinder earlier filed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the absence of any counsel representing the party.
The learned counsel further urged the court to order parties to file written addresses in respect of the substantive matter.
It, however, transpired that counsel to NIMASA, Mr. Mike Igbokwe (SAN), had earlier written the court to inform it of his inability to be in court yesterday as he is before the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos for another matter.
But the NLNG’s counsel was not served with a copy of the letter written to court and as such not aware of this development.
Counsel to GWVSL, opposed the instant application by counsel to NLNG and urged the court to adjourn the matter for NIMASA’s said application to be taken before making any order for filling of written addresses.
The judge ruled that it will not be in the interest of justice to order parties to file written addresses without first deciding on NIMASA’s application for joinder.
He therefore adjourned the matter to Thursday, February 27, 2014 for NIMASA’s said application for joinder.