Avenues for redress (penalties, remedies) and litigation procedure for individual complaints - Nigeria - 2013
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- Labour Act [LA] of 1974 as amended, Chapter 198 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990
Date: 1990; view website » (view in NATLEX »)
Compensation for unfair dismissal - free determination by court: Yes
- Remedies for unlawful termination (breach of contract) or wrongful dismissal without notice are limited to damages for the equivalent amount the employee would have been entitled to, had the contract not been unlawfully terminated. Therefore, in the event of unlawful termination, the employee is entitled to compensation equivalent to what the employee would have earned during the notice period.
In the event of wrongful dismissal without notice (for gross misconduct), the damages awarded corresponds to the amount the worker would have earned if he or she had continued working under the employment contract until this contract was lawfully terminated.
Nigerian law excludes damages for injured feelings (following the English case of Addis v. Gramophone Co.  AC 488.)
Reinstatement available: Yes
- Reinstatement is only available in limited circumstances (in particular, when the termination was based on the employee's trade union activities).
See: Chioma Kanu Agomo, 'Part I. Individual Employment Relations' (August 2010), pp. 39┐72, in Prof. Dr R. Blanpain, Prof. Dr M. Colucci (Eds.), International Encyclopaedia for Labour Law and Industrial Relations (Kluwer Law International BV, The Netherlands), pp. 62-63, paras. 158-159:
" The regular courts have consistently declined employee's request for reinstatement as appropriate remedy for wrongful termination (see Chukwuma v. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (1993) 4 NWLR 512; Sule v. Nigerian Cotton Board (1985) 2 NWLR 17; New Nigeria Bank Ltd v. Oniovosa (1995) 7 NWLR 691)"
This principle applies to the private sector, reinstatement is an available remededy for wrongful termination in the public sector.
The National Industrial Court has recognized that reinstatement can be ordered in two cases: the first one being when the termination is the result of the trade union activities of the employees prohibited under sec. 9(2) LA, the second one being (in line with the ordinary courts rulings) when an office or employment has a 'statutory flavour', which means that its conditions of service are provided for and protected by statute or regulations and any person holding that office or in that employment enjoys a special status. If the procedure laid down by the applicable statute for dismissing such a person is not complied with, then the dismissal will be null and void, and the person will be reinstated.
Preliminary mandatory conciliation: No
Competent court(s) / tribunal(s): ordinary courts; labour court
- Until the adoption of the National Industrial Court Act (2006), individual employment claims (including on wrongful terminations) were only handled by ordinary court. However the 2006 Act now confers jurisdiction to the National Industrial Court over individual employment disputes.
Existing arbitration: Yes
- Only trade disputes can be referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel. This institution does not generally deal with individual or rights disputes unless these disputes are part of a trade dispute. A trade dispute includes any "dispute or difference between employers and workers which is connected with the employment or non-employment of any person".
In any cases, an individual employment dispute can always be settled by private arbitration if the parties so agree.