Skip links


The Law Crest LLP (“TLC”) successfully represented Michelin Tyre Services Company Limited (“Michelin”) in its first product liability case in Nigeria, in the case of Hon. Emmanual Ekon & Anor v Michelin Tyre Service Company Limited (the “suit”).

The Claimants alleged that a Michelin tyre purchased from an agent of Michelin was defective and caused an accident they were involved in shortly after the purchase. They sought N1,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) in aggravated or general damages for psychological stress, trauma, and inconveniences purportedly caused by the defective tyre. The Claimants relied heavily on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur and the testimony of an alleged tyre expert who had fitted the tyre to the 1st Claimant’s car.

In Michelin’s defence, TLC argued that in negligence cases involving accidents, the claimant must prove that the accident resulted from the defendant’s negligence, as the mere occurrence of an accident is not proof of negligence. TLC emphasized that the burden of proof in product liability cases rests on the claimant and additionally argued that to establish a manufacturer’s defect or latent defect, the claimant must demonstrate that the product deviated from its intended design. Regarding the applicability of res ipsa loquitur, TLC contended that this doctrine only applies when (i) the vehicle involved in the accident was under the defendant’s management, and the accident would not ordinarily occur if proper care was used, and (ii) the defendant has provided an explanation for the accident. In this case, the tyre was under the Claimants’ management at the time of the accident, and Michelin presented an expert report indicating that underinflation, not a defect, caused the tyre damage. Thus, res ipsa loquitur was inapplicable.

The High Court of the FCT concurred with our arguments and dismissed the Claimants’ One Billion Naira claim against Michelin on the grounds that (i) the Claimants failed to prove negligence or any manufacturer’s defect or latent defect in the tyre, (ii) the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur did not apply, and (iii) there were contradictions in the Claimants’ case.

This case reiterates the position that product liability in the context of tyre manufacturing is a complex area of law that requires thorough evidence and clear demonstration of fault or negligence.

Michelin, renowned internationally for their superior tyre quality, was represented by TLC’s litigation team led by our partner, Olatunji Muritala, and assisted by our Senior Associate, Oluwatoyin Oladejo and Associates, Mana Phar, Damilola Akande and Chidiebere Okoroafor.