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 question for the court was whether a respondent who never pleaded his entitlement to a defence can be lawfully refused the reliefs he seeks against an appellant.
The respondent claimed title to the land in dispute, alleged trespass against the appellant and sought an injunction. On appeal, the appellant claimed laches and acquiescence against the respondent. This was on the basis that the respondent stood by waiting for the appellant to complete his residential building and moved in before he took legal steps.
The contention of the respondent was that the equitable defence of laches and acquiescence did not arise in the court below and therefore the respondent could not be said to be guilty of any.
This court held that the respondent, from his pleadings and evidence, continued to have the right to exclusive possession of the land in dispute. The appellant violated this right. The appeal was dismissed for lack of merit.
It was further held that the respondent failed to adhere to the rules of pleading in the conduct of their cases, therefore the respondent may not make any case outside the matters he pleaded.
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.
This is an appeal against a High Court decision granting a summary judgement. The dispute emanated from share trading facility offered to the appellant company by the respondent bank. However, the appellant failed to pay for the shares when payment fell due, prompting the respondent to approach the court where a summary judgement was awarded in favor of the respondent.
The appellant appealed the decision on the ground that it was not given a fair hearing. It pointed out that the determination through summary judgement ignored issues of merit. The appellant argued that sufficient issues had been raised to warrant a full trial of the case, and that it had a bona fide defense.
The respondent opposed the appeal on the basis that the summary judgement was employed to prevent a sham defense, and that an objection to summary judgement must address a specific claim not a general sweeping denial of the claim.
The court held that the case hinges on whether the appellant’s defense constitutes a triable issue. It found that the appellant failed to raise triable issues. It held that the trial court was correct in finding that the appellant defense was a sham. It ruled that the appellant was indebted to the respondent. The appeal was thus dismissed.
The plaintiffs sued the defendant for breach of contract. The first plaintiff claimed US $190,747 for services rendered to the defendant. The second plaintiff claimed US $3,085 being the outstanding balance for provision of services to the defendant before their contract was terminated. The plaintiffs each reached a settlement agreement in which the defendant was going to pay a portion of the claimed amount.
The plaintiffs later claimed they concluded the first payment under duress, and sought the full amounts originally claimed plus interest.
The defended raised a defence of res judicata on the grounds that the case was premised on a subject matter which has been previously decided. It produced letters of acknowledgment of full payment.
The court dismissed the res judicata defence on the basis that this was a different case because there were new parties and that the plaintiffs were now seeking interest. However, the court held that there was no evidence of duress and if the plaintiffs were assaulted they should have made a police report. The court ruled that it cannot ignore the letter of acknowledgement of full payment on the grounds that a contract entered by parties should be respected.
The case was dismissed with costs.
The matter arose from a dispute about the detention of goods belonging to the second plaintiff by the defendant.
The first issue was whether the detention was lawful. Section 214 of the East African Community Customs Act required notice of detention to owners when known. As ownership was not clear, the court observed that notice was not necessary. It also further reasoned that the conduct of the defendant did not amount to seizure as the goods were already in their hands with the knowledge of owners before they were impounded. The court thus held lack of notice did not breach the legislation and therefore not unlawful.
On whether the goods were wrongfully detained, the court reasoned that the act of holding out representation of title by the second plaintiff and the allegations of fraud was cause for investigation by the defendants and consequent detention pending investigation of ownership. Further, the defendant was legally obliged to hold on to the goods as a lien pending the demand of payment of tax. The detention was therefore lawful.
Lastly, the court considered whether the MoU entered into by the plaintiffs and defendant was entered into by duress. Citing Pao On v Lau  3 ALL ER 65 for factors to prove duress, the court noted that the plaintiffs protested and denied indebtedness arising from the memorandum of understanding (MoU) but did not necessarily repudiate immediately or seek redress. It thus reasoned that the actions of the plaintiff did not show duress and therefore held the MoU was entered without duress.
This was an application for an order of specific performance compelling the defendants to sign transfers of an aircraft.
The court considered the indebtedness of both parties to each other and held that the plaintiff was indebted to the defendants in respect of leasing and purchasing. The court applied the rule that people who freely negotiate and conclude a contract should be held to their bargain and found that the plaintiff’s defence of duress was unviable, since the defendants were entitled to ground the aircraft on grounds of non-payment.
Secondly, the court determined whether the defendants/counterclaimants were entitled to the interest payments claimed in the counterclaim. The court held that the defendants were entitled to the interest as agreed upon in the reconciliation document.
Thirdly, the court considered whether the counter-claimants/ defendants have a cause of action against the second defendant. The court relied on the concept that only parties to a contract can sue for breach (privity of contract). It observed that there were exceptions to this rule where a third party can prove that he is a beneficiary of the contract between the two people. The court held that the defendants were third party beneficiaries since the loan agreement between the first defendant and the second defendant was for their benefit.
Accordingly the case was dismissed and the defendant was awarded special damages and general damages as prayed for, but denied aggravated damages.