12th September 2021
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, cautioned NICON Insurance Ltd against forum shopping.
Justice Tijjani Ringim issued the warning after the firm discontinued two identical suits it filed against the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, by NICON Insurance.
The judge upheld the submission of AMCON’s counsel Mr Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, that the two suits – FHC/L/CS/1116/2021 and FHC/L/CS/1115/2021 were near identical with a third suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/760/2021.
Pinheiro had contended that the plaintiff had been embarking on forum shopping in filing two suits within two weeks and withdrawing the same. These suits were FHC/L/CS/1051/21 and FHC/L/CS/1052/21 both filed at the Federal High Court Lagos.
He prayed the court to “stop this attitude” by dismissing the suit and awarding punitive costs to serve as a deterrent to others.
But counsel to NICON Insurance, Adenrele Adegorioye, opposed him.
Adegorioye prayed the court to grant his application for withdrawal and strike out the suit on the ground that the plaintiff was still within time to withdraw under the Rules of Court.
Justice Ringim, in a short ruling, struck out the matter, but with a caveat.
He said: “I have listened to the various legal submissions of counsel and facts before me. I am satisfied that the proper order to make is that of striking out and, same having been withdrawn, is hereby struck out.
“However, the plaintiff is hereby warned not to embark on a voyage of forum shopping because upon perusal of court records – which I am permitted to do under the rule – I can see that this same plaintiff filed the same two set of suits on August 23, which was withdrawn on August 28.
“Subsequently, the same plaintiff filed another suit seeking the same reliefs. The court is not a forum for a game of chance. The court will frown at such if this repeats.”