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 main question of contention was who the rightful owner of the land in the dispute was and whether the person who distributed the farms to the plaintiffs had authority to do so.
The court considered the evidence adduced before it by both sides in an attempt to prove who is the rightful owner of the land. The court observed that despite the fact that the plaintiffs in the matter at hand were 51, only two out of all the plaintiffs testified before the court.
The law as provided under section 110 (1) of the Evidence Act, Cap 11 R.E 2002 states that whoever desires any court to give judgment as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence of facts which he asserts must prove that those facts exist. The court held that when the question is whether any person is owner of anything to which he is shown to be in possession, the burden of proving that he is not the owner is on the person who asserts that he is not the owner. Since the plaintiffs asserted in the plaint are the rightful owner of the land in dispute it was their duty to prove the first defendant is not the owner of the land.
In the result the plaintiffs were found to have failed to prove the claims they filed to court against the defendants. Consequently, the plaintiffs’ suit was dismissed.
Two parties both claimed ownership to land, both believing they were first to cultivate the land. The court considered an appeal from a judgment that held neither the appellants or respondents were entitled to land in dispute. When the matter was appealed, it was remitted back to the trial court. There was a dispute over the lower court’s decision to remit the case to the trial court to consider the evidence.
The court held that the court has no power to grant a party relief that was not pleaded. However, an appellate court has the inherent power to order a retrial or remittance of a case for whatever purposes, even if this was not pleaded. In this case however, the court held that the previous appellate court was wrong to remit the case back because the trial court had already evaluated the evidence.
The court emphasised that the court must not absolve itself of its duty to carefully evaluate evidence and determine a matter on its merits. The burden of proof lies on the person who alleges, and he must lead credible and cogent evidence to support his claim.
The court held that the applicant had not proven their claim to the land and the respondent, who led credible and cogent evidence about the ownership of the land, was entitled to the property in question.
The case concerned an appeal against the ruling of the High Court relating to land ownership.
Based on the evidence adduced in the High Court, the court had to consider whether the appellant and the respondent proved their respective cases and whether the land in question was clearly described during the trial.
The court held that only the appellant was able to prove his case and that the land in question was clearly identified by the appellant.
The court went on to state that the appellant was able to prove title to the land in question through his grandfather and that the respondents did not dispute the claim. Furthermore, the respondents asserted in their pleadings that the land in question was acquired by the state but failed to discharge the burden that rested on them in proving so. The court ruled in favour of the appellant in so far as him being able to clearly identify and describe the land in question.
The appeal succeeded, and the judgment of the High Court was set aside. The court confirmed that the title of the land vested in the appellant and granted a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from trespassing on the land.
This case concerns a vast tract of land which belongs to the Oloto Royal Family of Lagos, of whom the appellant is traditional monarch and head of family. The appellant sought to set aside a conveyance on the grounds that the deeds of conveyance were fraudulently executed. The court considered whether reliance on the presumptions raised in ss 123 and 150(1) Evidence Act (the act) was justifiable where the purported vendors did not sign the deeds. The court also considered whether the lower court was correct to have sustained the plea of laches and acquiescence against the appellant.
The court held the claimant bears the burden of proof for ownership of land. Further, in terms of s 150(1) of the act, when any judicial or official act is shown to have been done in a manner substantially regular, it is presumed that there was compliance with the formal requisites. The court held that in considering the doctrine of laches the plaintiffs must also consider acquiescence on the plaintiffs' part and any change of the position that has occurred on the defendant's part.
The court found that the respondents failed to tender the original copy of the conveyance containing the actual signatures of the vendors; therefore, reliance on s 123 and s 150(1) of the act is not justifiable. The court also found that the court of equity would come to the aid of the respondent and hold it unconscionable to uproot the respondent from the land.
Accordingly, the appeal succeeded in part, the court set aside the decision by the lower court that the conveyance documents are valid as per the Evidence Act.
Trials – onus of proof in civil proceedings – plaintiff to adduce satisfactory evidence in support of their case
Appeal against the judgment in favour of the respondent for arrear rent with costs. The appeal was brought on two grounds: the lower court erred by ordering the rent payable in British Pounds (GBP); and the trial court erred in holding that the burden of proving non-payment of the rent in GBP rested on the appellant.
The first issue concerned the interpretation and applicability of the Decimal Currency Act (the act) on the mode of payment of the rent, which was fixed by the Deed of lease. Applying literal interpretation, the court concluded that section 1(2) of the Act related only to contracts entered into in Nigerian Pounds. It was not the legislature’s intention to constrict contractors from deciding the terms and manner of payment. Parties to a contract are bound by its terms and conditions, and a court will respect the contract.
Issue two as to who bore the onus of proving the currency of payment post-Decimal Currency Act, was decided in favour of the respondent. The burden of proof generally lies with the plaintiff to establish their case, however this burden is not static. The respondent adduced evidence of non-payment of rent, the burden shifted to the appellant to adduce evidence rebutting this, and in proof of the assertion that regular payments of rent were made. The appellant failed to produce evidence that payment was made, and that it was done in Naira and not GBP.
The appeal was dismissed.
In 1998 the appellant filed a suit against the respondent, to which the responded reacted with a counter-claim. The appellant’s claim was withdrawn in 2006 but the respondent’s counter-claim was not. The trial judge ruled in favour of the respondent. The appellants were dissatisfied with the decision and filed an appeal.
The Court of Appeal considered whether the burden of proof of fraud alleged in the counter-suit rested on the appellants. The court held that the burden of proof rests on the party who alleges that fraud was committed. In this case, the appellants had withdrawn their case against the respondent and only the respondent’s counter-claim remained. Consequently, the court upheld the appellant’s complaint and placed the burden to prove that fraud was committed on the respondent.
The court then considered whether the lease of the suit property to the first appellant was fraudulent and reviewed the lower court’s order in cancellation. The court held that fraud must be specifically pleaded and strictly proved and cannot be left to be inferred from the facts. Neither party attempted to prove fraud against the other. Therefore, the courts held that the lease of the suit property to the first appellant was not fraudulent and that the trial judge should not have cancelled the first appellant’s certificate of title.
The court also considered whether the respondent’s lease agreement was breached because the first appellant denied the respondent possession of the suit land and reviewed the lower court’s order to extend the respondents lease. The court found that the respondent was in breach of contract and, therefore, had no right of possession and overturned the trial judge’s order to extend the respondent’s lease because the respondent had failed to request it in due course.
All grounds of the appeal succeeded.
The applicant brought an application for interim order against the respondents disposing of the
suit property fraudulently mortgaged by her husband without spousal consent the same being
matrimonial property. The applicant’s suit was dismissed by the trial court hence the appeal from
which the application arose.
The court concerned whether the goods seized by the defendants were all released pursuant to a consent to judgment being signed, and payment being fulfilled.
The plaintiff instituted action against the defendants for a declaration that they had breach a consent order. The defendants, without the plaintiff being present, entered a warehouse and seized a substantial number of goods.
A consent to judgment was entered into, wherein it was alleged that the defendant had breached the consent by not releasing all the goods. The plaintiff sought recovery of the goods and said that the seizure was unlawful.
The court found that the test to be applied is as follows: 1) whether all goods were released? 2) If not, what is the value of the goods not released and the potential remedies available?
The court found that the burden of proof lies on the party who asserts that the truth of the issue is in dispute. When that party adduces evidence, which is sufficient to raise a presumption that what he alleges is true, the burden of proof shifts to the other party to counter allege and produce evidence to rebut the presumption.
The court found that a substantial portion of the goods were not released as a result of the defendant being overburdened in their workforce, which deprived the plaintiff from use of the proceeds of the goods. Therefore, the plaintiff should be compensated for the economic inconvenience and awarded general damages.
The plaintiff tried to claim exemplary damages for breach of consent to judgment, however this was denied as it was not proven that the conduct of the defendants amounted to oppressive, arbitrary or unconstitutional behaviour.