Oxford University, OUP sued for incorrect definitions of mortgagee, mortgagor


A Nigerian lawyer, Mr. Ogedi Ogu, has filed a N10m lawsuit at the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere against Oxford University Press (OUP), publisher of Oxford Dictionary, for defining the words  “mortgagee’’ and “mortgagor” incorrectly in the dictionary.

Ogu stated that in the Oxford Mini Reference Dictionary and the Oxford English Mini Dictionary, which he purchased in 2005 and 2006 respectively, the word “mortgagee’’ was defined as the borrower in a mortgage transaction, while “mortgagor’’ was defined as the lender.

He said the Oxford Dictionary mixed up the meanings of the two words stressing that he had unknowingly relied on the definitions while offering a legal advice to a professional colleague, who later pointed out to him that the definitions were wrong.

He said his professional colleague drew his attention to the correct position in many other dictionaries apart from Oxford, which define the word “mortgagee” to be the lender and “mortgagor” to be the borrower.

Ogu claimed that he had since suffered a loss of professional respect among his colleagues, as his legal advice was no longer being sought.

Consequently, he said he instructed his lawyer, Emmanuel Ofoegbu, to write a pre-litigation letter to the first and second defendants, the University of Oxford and the OUP respectively on November 4, 2016, seeking redress.

He said the defendants replied with a letter dated November 30, 2016, by their legal director, admitting the wrong definitions complained of but refused to accept any liability.

The letter, he said, reads in part: “Our dictionaries are made available as a reference tool only; they are never held out by OUP as being an alternative to seeking independent legal or financial advice, and we cannot take responsibility for an individual’s decision to use them as such.”

He also wants the court to order Oxford University Press to always ensure that all dictionaries published by them have a caveat warning readers that they are only available as reference tools and that anyone who relies on them as an alternative to seeking legal or financial advice, does so at his risk.

The court did not to fix a date for the hearing of the suit marked Temp/36433/2018.



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