Drama of an OPEN CAVEAT

(It was on a Saturday afternoon. Barr. Ojulari was in his Chambers’ library for legal research. He received a call from Mr. Mellow, his friend).

MR. MELLOW: Good afternoon friend, I want to start a trouble here and I need your help. I want to start vawulence of the highest order.

BARR. OJULARI: I always tell you that you should never start any trouble, what happened exactly?

MR. MELLOW: My car was stolen overnight in an hotel here in Abuja and I want to sue the hotel management for their negligence. Besides, Police to full this premises now to arrest everybody.

BARR. OJULARI: An hotel! Bravo! What are you doing in an hotel in Abuja, My dear friend?

MR. MELLOW: I was here yesterday for a seminar and I decided to lodge in this hotel till this morning when I found out that my car has been stolen from the hotel parking facility.

BARR. OJULARI: Have you informed the hotel management? What is their reaction?

MR. MELLOW: Imagine these wicked souls were telling me that Vehicles are parked at owner’s risk, they have been showing me where they inscribe it on their premises. Though I am not blind, I also saw it when I was parking, but you know, everyone writes it on his premises, it does not have any meaning.

BARR. OJULARI: What do you want me to do now?

MR. MELLOW: I firstly want you to firstly help me to contact reliable Police officers to arrest everyone here. I also want to sue the hotel management to court and claim damages for not providing security for my stolen car.

BARR. OJULARI: Had it been that you have cause of action on this matter, we would be suing the hotel management for Vicarious liability, but in this matter, you can’t sue the hotel management, you can only inform the Police to help you to track your car and retrieve it from the Car thief.

MR. MELLOW: Why won’t I be able to sue the hotel management for the negligence of its security officers who foolishly neglect their duty to care for my car till it got stolen? Are you telling me that I am not entitled to DUTY OF CARE to my life and property as a customer of the hotel? Is that not Negligence? Is Negligence no more enforceable by a law Court?

BARR. OJULARI: Of course you are entitled to duty of care as their customer, but not in this circumstance.

MR. MELLOW: Under what circumstance o! I know you won’t dissapoint me by defending those incompetent hoteliers against my right!

BARR. OJULARI: Calm down friend, in law, Negligence connotes an omission or failure to do something which a reasonable man, under same circumstance would do, or the doing of something which a reasonable and prudent man would not do.[1]

MR. MELLOW: And of course, they have failed to do what they should have done!
BARR. OJULARI: Really? Before you can claim that they are liable for Negligence, they must have owe you duty of care, you must also be able to prove that your duty of care was breached by that hotel, and you have suffered damages from their negligent misconduct.[2]

MR. MELLOW: Yes now, everything you just said is already established in this matter.

BARR. OJULARI: With due respect, Once they have written a sign board to indicate that if you park your car in their premises, you do so at your own peril, they have exonerated themselves from liability, if your car later got stolen within their facility. So they don’t have any legal obligation to care for your car. Besides, they are only offering you help to provide you where to park your car.

MR. MELLOW: So, there is no exception to this caveat?

BARR. OJULARI: The only exception that may make the hotel management to be Vicariously liable was that, if as you were going in from the gate, you were given a plastic or metal disc and you parked your car into the hotel park, you locked it up, gave the keys to the hotel security men and drew their attention to where you parked your car[3], yes can sue the hotel management for Negligence and the hotel management will vicariously liable.

MR. MELLOW: What should I do now?

BARR. OJULARI: Inform the Police to help you to track your car and forget about dragging the hotel management.

MR. MELLOW: Thanks Friend, I’m very grateful. But this legal advise you give me today is for free. I won’t give you a dime.

BARR. OJULARI: You are not serious, do you want everyone to be thinking that lawyers don’t offer their professional knowledge for free? Quickly go and report to Police for a swift action.

(The call got dropped from the other end)

CAVEAT: A warning or proviso of specific stipulations, conditions, or limitations.

[1]. Diamond Bank Ltd V. P.I.C Ltd (2009) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1172) p62
[2]. Kodilinye and Aluko, “The Nigerian Law of Torts”, 2nd Ed, Ibadan, Spectrum Law Publishing, 1999; p38
[3]. Anyah V Imo Concord Hotels Ltd (2002) 12 SC (Part. 11)

ABDULRAUF Abdullahi Adebayo is a Law student, a Content creator, a Dynamic Writer and a Ghost writer. He can be reached via +2349034904883 and [email protected]

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