We Don’t Allow Takeaways.

We Don’t Allow Takeaways. Daily Law Tips (Tip 812) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Introduction:

For pleasure or business, there are several reasons to stay away from home. From hotels, motels to hostels, there are often buffet and complimentary meals. However, like most services in Nigeria, the meals are often very tasty but the staff are never well mannered. “We don’t allow takeaways” is a common statement in most dining halls in hotels, with a frowning staff dismissing the requests of guests to take away their meals. Guests are forced to eat their meals at a given time and eat them in dining halls or lose them.

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Every stay in a hotel starts with a contract (oral, written or a mixture of both) but this is often vitiated by hoteliers and their staff. Most guests are often too busy or ignorant to detect such breaches and to seek legal remedies. This work examines one of the most common breaches of Hotel-Guest Contract that happens in most dining halls when guests are stopped from taking away their meals by hotel staff. It focuses on simple contract, implied covenants, contract termination and remedies. It applies the theory of “Adighi ebu egwu eje’be Osadebe” in explaining the takeaway policies of hotels.

Takeaways to Hotels:

Every relationship starts with an agreement, whether written or unwritten or a combination of both. A typical stay in a hotel starts with a reservation. Most reservations are made based on an advertisement or referral or just by roaming the internet. Where an intending guest calls or writes a hotel and the hotel makes a reservation for the guest, both parties are deemed to have commenced their agreement. It is often an agreement to offer a habitable room/space (and other services) on the part of the hotel and the agreement to pay for such services on the part of the guest. The Hotel-Guest Agreements are often made up of series of services offered by the hotel (Offer) and the services are the basis for the acceptance from the guest.

It is expected that hotels will list out and highlight their services, dos and don’ts to an intending guest. And an intending guest is expected to highlight his desired services. Both are to reach a comprise and then hit an agreement. They can only be an agreement when both parties are on the same page (agreement). This also means that the moment a party goes outside the agreement, the party may be breaching the agreement.

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There is a popular saying in Igbo land in Nigeria, that; “Adighi ebu egwu eje’be Osadebe” (you don’t take singers to perform in the residence of Chief Osadebe, the renowned musician). One of the most celebrated highlife musicians in Nigeria was Chief Osita Osadebe. It was said that the residence of the music maestro had a lot of music experts, trainers and trainees. So, it was useless for any person (guest of Osadebe) to seek to impress Osabebe by bringing street singers to perform in Osadebe’s residence. It is another way of saying, you don’t add a spoon of water to an ocean.

Most hotels have large restaurants with resident cooks, churning out local and continental meals in minutes. So, it is almost unnecessary for any guest to come to a hotel with his own meal.  Most hotels also have large barns of good wines and as such will not allow a guest to come in with his own wine. Selling food and wine is a huge part of hotel business, so hotels have policies that stop guests from coming in with their own food and wine. Some hotels allow guests to bring in their own wines, so far as the guests pay corkage fee to the hotel. Most uninformed hoteliers and their untrained staff will defend their policies under the pretense that the hotel does not want to have its guest poisoned and as such prefers to provide all meals for all their guests. And, one wonders if guests cannot eat outside the hotel or play host to some slow working poisons ahead of their stay in such hotels.

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Truly, there is nothing wrong with having business policies designed to promote business; like stopping guests from bringing in their own food and wines. Hospitality businesses are really businesses and will only remain in business if operated as businesses. However, such policies should be communicated to intending guests ahead of their reservations and agreements with hotels. It is morally and legally wrong for any hotel to communicate its restrictive policies only after guests contract and pay the hotel.

Takeaways from Hotels:

Food is a huge factor in Nigeria, as food insecurity increases across Africa. Dishing out very small rations as complimentary meals is possibly a survival route for most hotels in Nigeria. Buffets are organized in hotels in Nigeria (including the few five start hotels) with a legion of staff (if not armed officers) scrutinizing meal cards and often frowning at full plates of guests. At times, guests are forced out of dining halls for eating a lot by the standards of the hotel or stopped from taking a particular food by the hotel staff. The attitude of most hotels spur guests to wonder if hotels truly understand the word; “buffet”.

“We don’t allow takeaways” is a common statement among hotel staff manning dining halls. While guests are attracted to hotels by the services promised to be offered by hotels (including buffet), most hotels will not allow a guest take his food out of the dining halls or to eat outside certain periods. Whether the guest had eaten any part of his meal or not, most requests by guests to take away their meals are met with “we don’t allow takeaways”. Resident guests are even stopped from taking their meals to their rooms or out of the hotel (unless some earlier unknown charges are paid). Such oppositions only change when guests demand to speak with the managers of the hotels or a senior staff, the managers knowing the rights of guests will often allow takeaways.

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Booking and staying in hotel is the expression of a lodge agreement between hotels and guests. It could also include a buffet agreement, gym agreement, spa agreement, internet agreement, tour agreement and club agreement. These agreements are made to make the stay of guests memorable. Where a guest and a hotel agree on any service to be rendered by the hotel, the hotel has no rights or powers to amend, restrict or vitiate any part of the agreement without the consent of the guest. So, where a hotel offers a buffet and a guest accepts and pays the buffet separately or as part of the total hotel fee/package, the hotel cannot vitiate the agreement without huge legal consequences.

A guest could prefer to eat his meal at any time outside the dining hours of a hotel, for whatever reasons. In that case, the guest will need to takeaway his meal from the dining hall. It is unlawful for any hotel to force guests to eat meals against their wishes. It is unlawful for guests to be forced to pay extra money for such guests to takeaway food that the guests are entitled to eat.  It is only logical and implied that a guest that pays for a food in a hotel will eat his food at his time. It is implied that a hotel will allow a guest that is entitled to a meal to have his meal at his time, so far as the time does not inconvenience or cost the hotel more.

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However, a hotel that wishes to depart from the implied consequences and conditions of hoteling and dining, should express their restrictions early, at the point of contracting with a prospective guest. It is wrong for a hotel to amend its contract with a guest in the course of the contract/stay of the guest and without the consent of the guest. Hotels are expected to pre-inform guests about their restrictions on smoking, dining, pets, corkage fee and others. It is rude to suddenly restrict access of guests on issues already expressly or impliedly permitted by the contract of parties.

Conclusion:

A stay in a hotel is bound by the agreement between a guest and its host (the hotel). The agreement may be written, unwritten or both. A guest does not stay at the mercy of the hotel, since the hotel is offering a paid service and bound by the agreement of parties.

Where providing food is part of the agreement of parties, the hotel must provide food. Also, the hotel should allow the guest to access and eat his food, including to eat such food at a convenient time of the guest. This includes, allowing the guest to takeaway his food from the dining hall or hotel. Guest are never to be forced to eat meals. A hotel that intends to charge fees for meals to be a takeaway or that does not even want food to be taken away, should discuss such restrictions with guest during contracting.

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Hotels must learn to honor the rights of guest and their agreements with guests. Hotels should engage good lawyers to drafts well covering agreements that will include all necessary hotel policies, to avoid spinning rights-violating surprises to guests. Guests should learn more about their hotel rights and always speak with their lawyers whenever they feel their rights are threatened or violated. Where there is a breach of contract (including agreements between Guests and Hotels), the violating parties should be sued in court and legal remedies sought, including damages (huge financial costs).

My authorities, are:

  1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. The judgment of the Supreme Court (on “offer” and “acceptance”) in the case of ASHAKACEM PLC v. ASHARATUL MUBASHSHURUN INVESTMENT LIMITED (2019) LPELR-46541(SC).
  3. Onyekachi Umah, “Requirements for the Importation of Petroleum Products in Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 6 May 2021) < https://learnnigerianlaws.com/requirements-for-the-importation-of-petroleum-products-in-nigeria/> accessed 23 June 2021
  4. Onyekachi Umah, “Requirements for Filling/Fuel Stations in Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 24 April 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/requirements-for-filling-fuel-stations-in-nigeria/> accused 5 May 2021
  5. Onyekachi Umah, “Punishment for Illegal Dealing on Petroleum Products” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 8 February 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/punishment-for-illegal-dealing-on-petroleum-products/> accessed 23 April 2021
  6. Onyekachi Umah, “Punishment for Price Increment during COVID-19 Lockdown in Lagos State” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 13 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/punishment-for-price-increment-during-covid-19-lockdown-in-lagos-state/> accessed 23 April 2021
  7. Onyekachi Umah, “Dangote Group, BUA Group, the FCCPC & Sugar Price Fixing” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 7 May 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/dangote-group-bua-group-the-fccpc-sugar-price-fixing/> accessed 23 June 2021Onyekachi Umah, “How to Certify Documents & Make Affidavits Without Courts” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 14 April 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-to-certify-documents-make-affidavits-without-courts/> accessed 27 April 2021
  8. Onyekachi Umah, “Effect of Power of Attorney Not Executed Before a Notary Public” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 23 March 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/effect-of-power-of-attorney-not-executed-before-a-notary-public/> accessed 14 April 2021
  9. Onyekachi Umah, “You Don’t Need To Register Any Agreement In Courts or With A Notary Public” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 2 December 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/you-dont-need-to-register-any-agreement-in-courts-or-with-a-notary-public/> accessed 14 April 2021
  10. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Make Power Of Attorney To Be Genuine And Acceptable.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 16 April 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-to-make-power-of-attorney-to-be-genuine-and-acceptable-daily-law-tips-tip-312-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/>  accessed 14 April 2021
  11. Onyekachi Umah, “Agreements in Nigeria Do Not Require Signatures of Notaries Public or Magistrates or Court Staff to be Legal and Binding” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 13 January 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-121-agreements-in-nigeria-do-not-require-signatures-of-notaries-public-or-magistrates-or-court-staff-to-be-legal-and-binding/> accessed 14 April 2021
  12. Onyekachi Umah, “Stamps and Seals of Courts and Commissioners for Oath Are Not Needed for Agreements To Be Valid.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 8 June 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-118-stamps-and-seals-of-courts-and-commissioners-for-oath-are-not-needed-for-agreements-to-be-valid/> accessed 14 April 2021
  13. Onyekachi Umah, “Requirements For A Lawyer To Be Appointed As A Notary Public For Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/requirements-for-a-lawyer-to-be-appointed-as-a-notary-public-for-nigeria/> accessed 14 April 2021
  14. Onyekachi Umah, “It Is Not “Notary Public Of Nigeria” But  “Notary Public For Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 30 January 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/it-is-not-notary-public-of-nigeria-but-notary-public-for-nigeria/> accessed 14 April 2021
  15. Onyekachi Umah, “Power Of Attorney Can Not Transfer Ownership/Title Of A Property” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 19 July 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-145-power-of-attorney-can-not-transfer-ownership-title-of-a-property/?> accessed 14 April 2021
  16. Onyekachi Umah, “Contents of a Valid Affidavit of Change of Name” (LearnNigerianLaws.com,17 May 2018) <Contents of a Valid Affidavit of Change of Name> accessed 23 June 2021
  17. Onyekachi Umah, “Things that Cannot Be Contained In An Affidavit” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 15 May 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-101-things-that-cannot-be-contained-in-an-affidavit/> accessed 23 June 2021
  18. Onyekachi Umah, “The Central Bank of Nigeria Notices on Cryptocurrencies; a Ban or a Banger?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 9 February 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/the-central-bank-of-nigeria-notices-on-cryptocurrencies-a-ban-or-a-banger/> accessed 23 June 2021
  19. Onyekachi Umah, “Who Are The Shareholders Of The Central Bank Of Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 7 February 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-263-who-are-the-shareholders-of-the-central-bank-of-nigeria/> accessed 23 June 2021
  20. Onyekachi Umah, ”How To Prove That A Bank Is Licensed In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 30 March 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-to-prove-that-a-bank-is-licensed-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-300-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 23 June 2021
  21. Onyekachi Umah, “Contents Of A Genuine ATM Receipt In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 19 March 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/contents-of-a-genuine-atm-receipt-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-292-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 23 June 2021
  22. Onyekachi Umah, “Is It Illegal To Spray Or Dance On Naira Notes (Money) In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws..com, 21 December 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-254-is-it-illegal-to-spray-or-dance-on-naira-notes-money-in-nigeria/> accessed 23 June 2021
  23. Onyekachi Umah, “No Bank In Nigeria Can Unilaterally Change /Vary Interest Rate In Its Agreement With A Customer” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 23 August 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-168-no-bank-in-nigeria-can-unilaterally-change-vary-interest-rate-in-its-agreement-with-a-customer/> accessed 23 June 2021
  24. Onyekachi Umah, “Use/Demand for Foreign Currency in Nigeria is a Crime” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 7 June 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-117-use-demand-for-foreign-currency-in-nigeria-is-a-crime/> accessed 23 June 2021
  25. Onyekachi Umah, “Can the Central Bank of Nigeria blacklist a Bank Employee?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 29 March 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-the-central-bank-of-nigeria-blacklist-a-bank-employee/> accessed 23 June 2021
  26. Onyekachi Umah, “Banks Should Not Refuse Affidavits/Documents Made By Notaries Public” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 28 April 2021) https://learnnigerianlaws.com/banks-should-not-refuse-affidavits-documents-made-by-notaries-public/accessed 23 June 202
  27. Photo Credit: istockphoto.com 

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