Failure to Obtain Work Permit in Nigeria and other Legal Issues: A Review of Batalha v West Africa Construction Company Limited
The Court of Appeal (CA) in the case of Batalha V West Africa Construction Ltd considered the breach of section 8 of the Immigration Act 1963 and the effect of the failure of an employer to obtain work permit on a contract to be performed by an expatriate.
The CA held that the breach of section 8 of Immigration Act 1963 does not make the contract void and it is the duty of a company or an employer seeking to employ the services of an expatriate to ensure that the necessary work permit is sought and obtained from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). The CA held further that any contract entered into by an employer and an expatriate without necessary authorization shall be enforceable against an employer, who refuses to obtain necessary work permit for the expatriate.
The Appellant, a Portuguese national was employed by the Respondent, West Construction Company Limited, as a Project Engineer at the Respondent’s head office in Benin City, Edo State in 1992. Shortly thereafter, the Appellant withdrew his services and filed an action claiming for certain sums of money being arrears of his salaries, allowances and interests.
In defence, the Respondents, (Defendants in the lower court) contended that the Contract of Employment (CoE) with the Appellant was unenforceable because the expatriate (Appellants) did not have a valid work permit to work in Nigeria at the time the contract was made. At the end of the trial, the High Court ruled in favour of the Respondent on the ground that, the CoE was illegal for non-compliance with sections 8 and 34 of the Immigration Act 1963 amongst others.
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