"He's very sound, he's very good on his feet. It's one thing to know the law but another to put it across in a way that is appealing to the judges - he's a good advocate."Chambers Global 2018
His ability goes beyond being a very intellectual lawyer - he is capable of dealing with complex technical aspects outside his area and works as a truly international lawyerChambers Global
Has cultivated an impressive reputation in the Nigerian market, representing clients in a range of oil and gas and energy-related disputes, handling several disputes in the wake of high-profile corporate insolvenciesChambers Global 2020
Regarded as a leading practitioner in the UK and Nigeria, Oba Nsugbe QC, SAN has a broad international practice focussing on Africa related litigation and dispute resolution. He provides high-level advice and representation for individuals, corporate clients and other organisations, (including NGOs), in matters ranging from business crime and corrupt practices to contractual and corporate disputes. His ongoing international work includes advising the Swiss Government in its case against Nigeria before ITLOS, acting as joint lead Counsel for two US companies in only Nigeria’s second case at ICSID, and Counsel in a multi-jurisdictional claim for families of multiple victims of the Dana Air Crash in Lagos in 2012. He advised and appeared for the Lagos State Government in arbitral proceedings instituted against it following the collapse of Enron and the termination of various related contracts entered into by the State. Oba has also provided expert advice and evidence on issues of Nigerian law to a wide range of institutional, corporate and individual clients ranging from the Treasury Solicitors to leading City firms and business entrepreneurs.
Called to the Bar in 1985, when Oba took silk in 2002 aged only 39, he was described in a leading law commentary as “a rising star of the Bar of England and Wales”. He commands considerable respect from both clients and peers. Numerous entries in Chambers and Partners over the years have described him as “a first-class advocate” as well as “a true gentleman who deserves his fabulous reputation”, adding that he has a “fine forensic mind” and is admired for his “technical excellence”. Contributors to the directory have also remarked that he is “fabulously personable, easy-going, and adored by judges and juries”, “works extremely well in a team” and “impresses interviewees with his calm and genial manner”.
He is qualified in both the UK and Nigeria and is highly experienced in the courts of both countries. He specialises in arbitration and complex commercial disputes acting for companies and individuals working in Africa, in particular Nigeria. He has substantial experience of institutional and ad hoc arbitration. He is also experienced in fraud and Asset recovery work. Instructed in some of the most significant and high profile ongoing and past cases in Nigeria, (including acting for families affected by the Dana Air Crash in product liability and Montreal Convention claims, the constitutional challenge to Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, and the successful defence of individuals said to have aided and abetted former Governor James Ibori in the large scale money laundering trials conducted in the UK), Oba provides high level advocacy and advisory services to a wide range of local and international clients. He is frequently involved in multi-jurisdictional cases.
He has also provided expert advice and appeared as an expert witness in a substantial number of UK cases involving issues of Nigerian matrimonial and customary law with significant disputes relating to the validity of the marriage, financial relief and custody of the children. He gave expert evidence in the reported case of Howard v. Shirlstar in which he testified about the Nigerian aviation laws and regulations contravened by Howard, a British pilot, who was contracted to recover a plane owned by Shirlstar Container Ltd, which he flew to Ivory Coast, evading MIG fighter jets in the process. In addition, he routinely works lawyers from other overseas jurisdictions such as the US, Switzerland, Germany, the Cayman Islands, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Oba is able to provide expert regulatory guidance to businesses needing to comply with the legal framework in Nigeria. Furthermore, through a close network of established and highly specialist partner firms, he is able to cover other African jurisdictions as well. He is regularly called upon to advise on the drafting of contracts and commercial agreements, as well handling contentious contractual issues and other litigation, for some of the world’s largest companies in the oil and gas, leisure, banking, financial and publishing sectors. In the Cayman Islands his cases typically involve offshore trusts or insolvency, often with criminal recovery aspects. In addition, he has considerable alternative dispute resolution experience as both an Arbitrator and Counsel instructed in international arbitrations.
Successful defence of wife of a former Chief of Staff charged with money laundering offences.
Leading case on mens rea of officer of a body corporate under s.37 HSWA 1974.
Leading case on reverse burden in health and safety cases and impact of Human Rights Act.
Leading case on sentencing in health and safety cases.
Contract involving illegal performance – effect
In addition he has both prosecuted and defended a number of high profile criminal cases in the UK.
Competency of child’s evidence in sexual cases.
Sentencing in Manslaughter cases
Public Order Act 1986
Experienced Arbitrator and Dispute Resolution practitioner.
Legal Assessor to the General Medical Council.
Legal Assessor to the General Pharmaceutical Council.
Legal Assessor to the General Osteopathic Council.
Advising multinational bank seeking to establish card services in Nigeria on compliance with applicable regulatory and banking regulations.
Advising large Nigerian construction company over contractual dispute with local company constructing a hotel in Lagos.
Advising local Nigerian company on complex construction dispute with developer re: Lekki Expressway construction.
Acting for Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation on validity of asset disposal in UK by failed Nigerian Bank.
Acting for UK pilot suing Virgin Nigeria for breach of contract in the Lagos High Court.
Acting as expert witness on Nigerian Law for the largest African Hotel Group in arbitral dispute with leading Nigerian company in which a multi million dollar claim for damages made for alleged breaches of agency and marketing agreements in establishment of 5 star hotel in Nigeria.
Oba has extensive international arbitration experience both as an arbitrator and as Counsel. Ongoing and recent arbitration cases include:
Interocean v the Federal Republic of Nigeria – Counsel with Supo Shasore SAN for the Interocean companies in multi-million dollar arbitration investor protection claim against the Nigerian Government
Arbitrator with Mr Michael Tselentis QC and Mr Vinayak Pradhan in tripartite engineering project dispute over design and upgrade of operations and security complex at OML58 in Nigeria
Counsel for multinational steel construction companies in arbitration claim against Nigerian Government alleging expropriation of investments and wrongful termination of concessions. Case presently stayed for mediation
Acting as Counsel for one of Nigeria’s largest insurance companies defending a claim for breach of reinsurance agreements – effect of non-payment of premiums
Counsel for UK based private equity in claim against Investment Manager and one of its Directors for alleged fiduciary and contractual breaches of senior loan note subscription agreement
Advising UK company on contractual dispute involving supply of security equipment to African country
Acting for Nigerian Oil services company defending claim for alleged breaches of joint bidding and tender for lifeboat services brought by multinational
Acting for Nigerian company in claims against Chinese multinational for alleged payment failures under Zungeru Power Project bidding and services agreements law
Acting for Lagos State in large scale arbitration involving Enron. Defending Lagos State against substantial claims for damages for alleged breaches of power supply projects
Acting for Norwegian based insurers and marine geophysical company in arbitration pursuant to Arbitration and Conciliation Act(Cap A18) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria involving collision between vessel and offshore platform in Nigerian coastal waters