The Commercial Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from African countries on topics relating to commercial legal practice. The collection aims to provide a snapshot of commercial legal practice in a country, rather than present solely traditionally "reportable" cases. The index currently covers 400 judgments from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-matter expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
The appellant is a commercial bank and the respondent a holder of several accounts in the bank. The Imo State Task Force for the Recovery of Public Property and Funds (the task force) alleged that the respondent used contracts to defraud the Imo State government and paid the proceeds into the said accounts with the appellant.
The respondent admitted that the moneys in the two accounts operated with appellant were payments he received from the contracts which he failed to perform. The task force ordered the transfer and freezing of funds in these accounts pursuant to the Recovery of Public Funds and Property (Special Provisions) Edict, 1985, section 18(1). After hesitation and unfruitful communication with the respondent, the appellant consequently complied with the order of transfer and freezing of the funds in the account.
The courts below held that the action as constituted was a banker/customer relationship. Therefore, the court had jurisdiction to hear the matter.
However, this court held that the matter went beyond an ordinary banker/customer relationship. The freezing of the account of the respondent and subsequent transfer of the funds therein to government's’ bank account were acts done under Edict No. 7 of 1985. Thus, the cause of action was consequently not subject to litigation.
The matter involved an appeal over a decision made about a contractual dispute between the appellant and the respondent.
The first issue was whether the trial court had jurisdiction to consider a contractual matter between an individual banker and his bank. The court engaged with the interpretation of the relevant constitutional provision (s 251(1)(d)) as given by the Supreme Court and established that it granted concurrent jurisdiction between federal and state High Courts in customer-bank matters. The court reasoned that the provision is an exception to the exclusive jurisdiction enjoyed by federal courts. It concluded that the trial court had jurisdiction, though concurrent, to decide the matter at issue.
The second issue was whether there had been sufficient proof at the trial court to support judgment in favour of the respondent. Acknowledging that this issue required the court to embark on a re-evaluation of the evidence, the court emphasised that interference could only be done if it is shown that the trial court’s judgment was perversely flawed. After reviewing the trial court processes, the court concluded that there was a failure to properly evaluate the totality of all evidence, particularly determining what was admissible or inadmissible, before making its decisions. Since there was proof of an absence of a nexus link between the conclusions of the court and the proven facts, the appellate court could thus interfere and re-evaluate the evidence. The trial court’s judgment was therefore found to be fraught with error and was set aside.
The issue was whether the Corporate Affairs Commission (appellant) has powers to inspect affairs of banks (respondents) without a court order.
The case emanated from decision of the trial judge declining to grant an order directing the respondents to comply with the appellant inspectors.
The appellant argued that the Companies and Allied Matters Act (the act) empowers it to carry out an inspection without the need of a court order. It pointed out that the trial judge erred by holding that the appellant require a court order to investigate the respondents.
The respondents opposed the appeal by pointing out that the appellant can only carry out an inspection on the respondents through a court order and that the appellant had no power to appoint inspectors. They further argued that allowing an inspection by the appellant amount to breach of bank/client confidentiality.
The court ruled that the act allows the appellant to appoint investigators at the instances of company members or through a court order. It held that s 314(1) of the act empowers the appellant to investigate affairs of the banks without the need of a court order. The court ruled that the trial judge erred and the appeal was upheld.
The issue was whether the unilateral withdrawal of a bank guarantee by the appellant amounted to breach of contract.
The appeal emanated from judgement of trial court which found that the withdrawal of a bank guarantee by the appellant
was in breach of contract. The appellant had advanced a bank guarantee to the respondent to guarantee its trading capacity with MTN, a communications company for which it was a distributor. The parties agreed that the contract can only be terminated by giving 60 days’ notice period. The appellant unilaterally terminated the contract.
The respondent successfully challenged the termination in a lower court and was awarded damages amounting to ten million Naira with pre-trial interest. The appellant appealed the decision on the basis that it withdrew the bank guarantee after the respondent breached the agreement. It argued that the respondent’s claim was premised on negligence which had not been proven.
The respondent maintained that the appellant breached the contract by withdrawing the bank guarantee resulting in MTN cancelling its distribution agreement with the respondent. It further argued the delivery of termination was never proved.
The court held there was no evidence to show that the termination notice was delivered to the respondent. It found that the withdrawal of the bank grantee amounted to a breach of contract. The court ruled that it has no power to interfere with damages awarded by the lower court unless special circumstances exist. It found that the ten million award was too excessive warranting it to intervene.
The appeal was dismissed. General damages were reduced from ten million Naira to five million Naira.
The dispute emanated from reversal of a bank deposit by the appellant bank from the respondent’s bank account. The respondent deposited US $51,700 in to his bank account which was reversed by appellant bank on the basis that the money deposited was counterfeit currency. The respondent successfully challenged the reversal and was awarded damages amounting to 1 million Naira.
The appellant appealed against the ruling on the basis that the trial judge erred. The bank maintained that the currency deposed with bank was counterfeit. It based its argument on the failure by the respondent to disclose the source of the money and the verification of the money at its head office which proved that the money was counterfeit.
The respondent opposed the appeal on the grounds that there were not present at the verification of the currency and that it was the appellant who bears the onus of proving that the currency was not authentic. He argued that the bank staff verified the authenticity of the currency when he made the deposit.
In deciding the case the court held that the was no evidence to show that deposit acceptance was subjected to authentication. It ruled that deposit of the US $51,700 created a rebuttable presumption that authentic dollars were deposited. It pointed to the teller stamp and initials as consituting prima facie proof of payment and after producing that the respondent need not to go further. The appeal was thus dismissed.
This issue was whether the Minister of Finance (applicant) has powers to intervene where the respondent's (Oak Bay Investments) bank accounts were being closed. In deciding the case, the court employed the Superior Court Act 10 of 2013 (the act) which empowers the court to enquire into and determine any rights and obligation a person can claim.
The court held that the enquiry envisaged by s21(c) of the act encompasses a two-legged enquiry. The court must be satisfied that the applicant is a person interested in an existing, future or contingent right and whether the case is a proper one in which to exercise its jurisdiction.
The court ruled that there is no statute that empowers a minister to intervene in a private bank client dispute. Banks can terminate a relationship with a client at their own discretion. It observed that there was no uncertainty in regard to the relief sought by the applicant as there was a court precedent relating to relief being sought. The court held that the Minister of Finance through his counsel knew very well that he has no power to intervene. The court ruled that it is not obliged to grant the order sought by the minister because there was no uncertainty in regard to the legal question. It ruled further that to allow the relief sought would breach the principal of separation of powers as it will amount to judiciary to stray into domain of the executive.
The applicants sought an interim interdict against the respondent bank, with which they had a bank-client relationship, to restrain it from terminating the operations of the applicants’ banking facilities.
The court considered whether courts could direct the respondent to continue its operations in the country against its will. The court held that the respondent’s decision to exit the country’s banking sector is one that the courts cannot interfere with.
The court relied on the respondent’s constitutional right to trade, which also entails the election of not utilising such right. The court remarked that the respondent’s decision to cease operations in the country rested on commercial considerations which were highlighted in para 15 of the judgement.
The respondents right to or not trade supersedes any right the applicant may have, thus the application was dismissed with costs.
This is a second appeal by the appellant, both
his original suit in the High Court and his
subsequent appeal to the Court of Appeal
having been dismissed. The background is
that the appellant thought to borrow money
from the respondent and gave security as his
land, the issued cheque bounced and the
respondent used the security to secure a
mortgage from the first respondent which he
failed to pay and the first respondent sold the
land. The appellant was evicted and the
business closed and the appellant alleged
fraud but was unsuccessful both at high court
and court of appeal hence this appeal on the
grounds of the sale of land using the power of
attorney, the validity of the mortgage on the
appellants land, holding on fraud, improper
consideration of the evidence on record and
complete disregard of the facts.
A dispute between the company and the bank arose in respect of a specimen signature card allegedly issued for Susan Margaret Howard Bristow (Susan) as a director of the company. The dispute arose because the signature of Dr. Alex Babitunga authenticating Susan's specimen signature card was apparently forged. Additional words written on the card, altering the previous arrangements with the bank requiring two signatures for authorisation of withdrawals, appeared without any initials, signatures, authentication or stamping by the person or persons who cancelled them. The bank permitted certain withdrawals from the company bank account in accordance with the instructions on the card; as opposed to the earlier instructions.
The respondent alleged that the appellant had acted in breach of its duty to the respondent as its customer and had been negligent in permitting the respondent’s accounts to be cleared of all the money in them without the respondent’s authority.
The issues were whether the lower court erred in law and in fact in not holding that the respondent was estopped from saying that Susan Bristow was not an authorized signatory to the respondent's account.
The court explained that the principles of estoppel provides that when one person has, by his or her declaration, act or omission, intentionally caused or permitted another person to believe a thing to be true and to act upon that belief, neither he or she nor his or her representative shall be allowed, in any suit or proceeding between himself or herself and that person or his or her representative, to deny the truth of that thing. One of the conditions for the doctrine to apply is, therefore that the act or omission by the person against whom estoppel is to be set up, as a defense, must have been intentionally caused, in the instant case the fraud which the two courts below found had caused the appellant to act to its detriment believing it to be true was unknown to the respondent until the police report. The court held that the defense of estoppel was not available to the bank against the company because the respondent was unaware of Susan's fraudulent signatures on the cheques until the police investigation and report.
The court held that all documents concerning the respondent's accounts were in the possession and custody of appellant bank. Only the appellant knew and was responsible for entries on the bank accounts, it bore responsibility as the banker to what entries were made on those accounts without respondent's authority. The appeal was therefore dismissed with costs.
The defendant had rejected a claim of a certain amount as allowable tax deductions by the plaintiff. This case reconciles the different calculations for bad debts used according to the Financial Institution Act and the 2005 regulations on the other hand the Income Tax Act (ITA) International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
The court considered whether the assessment followed by the defendant was unlawful.
The court held that it was not required to determine which methodology was more consistent with the ITA section 24. The rationale for accounting methods should not depart from what is provided under the ITA, which is the parent act. Therefore, the definition of a bad debt should be based on the ITA under. The court considered the practice note which had the interpretation of the Commissioner General and held that section 160 of the ITA must be followed because the practice note is only binding on the Commissioner General and her personnel. The court held that section 24 deals with deductions of bad debts and the conditions to be fulfilled for deduction must apply. Thus, the court held that a bad debt under section is allowable as a deduction under section 24.
The court held that the plaintiff was obliged to make provision for bad debts which meet the criteria under section 24 of the ITA and the practice note issued by the Commissioner, file accounts with the Bank of Uganda and be up to standard under the IFRS.
The court also considered whether the plaintiff had to comply with the Bank of Uganda Circular that regulated deductibility of bad debts for income tax. The court held that the circular was not binding because it does not deal with whether a bad debt is an allowable deduction or not.
The court was satisfied that the above sum was a bad debt that is supposed to be an allowable deduction under section 22 and 24 of the ITA.
The matter involved a claim by the applicant against the defendant’s conduct of unlawfully blocking and deducting monies from his salary account.
First, was whether the court, as a commercial division, had jurisdiction over the matter. The court reasoned that as it dealt with crediting and debiting of the applicant’s account, the matter therefore lay in the ambit of a banker customer relationship. The court was therefore had jurisdiction as it was a commercial matter.
Next, was whether the applicant’s account had been unlawfully deducted and consequently who was liable, considering that the defendant had assumed the obligations of Crane Bank, the applicant’s original employer. The court found there was evidence that the applicant’s account had been credited with less money than he was earning for some time.
On the issue of liability, the court reasoned that despite the contractual exemption of liability upon assumption of Crane’s obligations by the defendant, the Employment Act required the employment obligations to transfer to the defendant as a matter of law. The effect was that the defendant was liable for the unlawful deductions.
Finally, the court dealt with the question of damages. The court used its discretion to put the plaintiff in the position he would have been but for the wrong, as required by law. The court, using its discretion, also awarded interest to the applicant on the basis that applicant had been deprived from own monies. It however denied the claim for exemplary damages as it could not establish malice, outrage or impunity in the conduct of the defendant.