A company incorporated in Nigeria can be sued in its name. This ability to be sued stems from the corporate principle of "corporate legal personality" which suggest that upon incorporation, a company takes up a legal identity. It should be noted that this principle also allows the company to sue. An incorporated company in Nigeria is an independent legal entity. Since an incorporated company becomes a legal person with rights and privileges, the process for suing it is not dissimilar to the procedure for suing an average individual in Nigeria.
There is a plethora of reasons for which a company can be sued. For example, it can be used for monetary claims. Here, the claimant must first deliver a written demand letter to the company. The demand letter serves as a notice of debt. It also states the exact amount owed and demand for payment. In anticipation of a potential disregard for the letter by the company, the demand letter also gives notice to the company that in such event the claimant will proceed to court to enforce their rights within a set time stated in the letter.
Generally, the court that has jurisdiction over matters concerning companies as defendants is the federal high court. However, depending on the cause of action, some matters may be filed in the State High Court. Claimants must pay keen attention to this and seek legal advice in this regard. Where the matter is being taken to court, the court processes generally includes:
- Writ of Summons/Originating Summons (Depending on the matter)
- Statement of Claim
- List of Witnesses
- Witnesses statement on Oath
- List of Documents to be relied on
- Affidavit of non-multiplicity
Which must all be served on the company upon filing at the Courts' registry. One must note that service is fundamental to any lawsuit and can affect the entirety of a case. It is advised that legal counsel be sought in prosecuting a case against a company.
Finally, and in addition to the above, a person looking to sue a company must pay attention to the issue of limitation period. Depending on the cause of action, the law (i.e. status of limitation) provides a period after which a claimant will be unable to bring an action against a defendant. The aim of this article is to provide a general overview of the topic.
Originally Published 18 May, 2021
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.