A Lagos state high court in Igbosere has dismissed an application by Oxford University in the UK seeking to stop a N10 million lawsuit filed against it by Ogedi Ogu, a Nigerian lawyer.
According to PUNCH, Ogu, in the suit, alleged that Oxford Dictionary, which is published by Oxford University Press, wrongly defined the words “mortgagee” and “mortgagor”.
The lawyer argued that the dictionary’s definitions of “mortgagee’’ as the borrower in a mortgage transaction; and “mortgagor’’ as the lender were wrong.
He claimed that he had relied on the definitions of the words as contained in the dictionary to give professional advice to a professional colleague.
The development, Ogu, said had caused him embarrassment and smeared his reputation as a lawyer after the said colleague called his attention to the fact that the definitions of the words he used were wrong.
He added that since the incident, all his professional colleagues stopped coming to him for legal advice.
He had consequently prayed the court in the suit to order Oxford University and Oxford University Press to pay him N10 million in damages.
He noted that when he reached out to the institution, it acknowledged the mistake but declined to admit liability.
“Our dictionaries are made available as a reference tool only; they are never held out by OUP as being an alternative to seeking independent legal or financial advice, and we cannot take responsibility for an individual’s decision to use them as such,” he quoted the institution as saying.
Funke Adekoya, the defence counsel, however, filed a preliminary objection, asking the court to strike out Ogu’s suit on grounds of incompetence.
According to Adekoya, the appellant failed to comply with Section 97 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act in issuing and serving his writ of summons.
She further argued that Oxford University Press, which was listed as 2nd defendant in Ogu’s suit, could not be sued because it is only a department under the University of Oxford and therefore remains a non-juristic entity.
I.O. Harrison, the judge, had in her ruling on June 30, partly dismissed one leg of the preliminary objection, noting that “the writ was validly issued and service was lawful and regular.”
“The court finds that not being a juristic person, the 2nd defendant can’t be sued and since they are a department of the 1st defendant, whatever affects the 1st defendant will naturally affect and bind on their departments. The notice of preliminary objection succeeds partially,” she had held.
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