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 respondent bought a piece of property from a third party. After the respondent had taken possession of the property, he became aware of the fact that his predecessor-in-title had mortgaged the property to the appellant. The respondent paid off the outstanding debt and thereafter demanded the release of the title deeds to him. Instead, the appellant demanded some authorisation from his predecessor-in-title before the documents could be released to him. The respondent instituted a claim on this basis. The trial court judgment was in the respondent’s favour.
After the respondent attached the property the appellant filed an application praying for an order staying execution of the judgment, particularly the sale of the property and ordered release thereof; before hearing of the application. The trial court dismissed this application.
The appellant eventually appealed to this court asking for the same. The appellant urged this court to allow the appeal, set aside the ruling of the court below and grant an order directing the High Court to retain the amount deposited as per judgment.
This court held that the order sought to be stayed was made by the trial court and there was no appeal against that order to the Court of Appeal. That being the case, it was held that it would be a wasteful academic exercise to delve into the merit of the issue. Consequently the appeal was dismissed.
In this case, the appellant appealed the decision of the lower court to strike out the appeal against the trial court’s interlocutory decision for being incompetent. This case illustrates how final and interlocutory orders are distinguished.
The court considered whether the Court of Appeal was right to hold that the appeal from the High Court on the issue of jurisdiction was interlocutory for which an appeal must be lodged within 14 days.
The court was called upon to determine whether or not a court’s decision is final in the course of determining the appeal. The court held that a final order at law was one which brings to an end the rights of the parties in the action. On the other hand, an interlocutory order was only intermediate and did not finally determine the rights of the parties in the action. The court held that this case was an interlocutory motion and the order that had been granted by the trial court was a final order. Therefore, an appeal on the order of the trial court was a right under section 220(1) of the Constitution.
The court also referred to Alor v. Ngene (2007) 17 NWLR (Pt 1062) 163 which provided that where a decision of a court finally and completely determined the rights of the parties, it was final, but if did not then it was only interlocutory. Thus, the court concluded that the trial court’s decision was interlocutory and could not be said to be perverse.
The court dismissed the application with parties bearing their own costs.
In this case, monies held by the appellant belonging to the Nigeria Customs Service were traced. An order nisi was served on the appellant as the fifth garnishee. This case illustrates how the garnishee proceedings do not avail the garnishee to attack a judgment that the judgment creditor and debtor have accepted.
The court considered whether the appellant should be granted leave to raise fresh issues in additional grounds of appeal. The court explained that garnishee proceedings were not a process employed by the garnishee to fight a proxy war against the judgment creditor on behalf of the judgment debtor. The court held that a decision of a court of law not appealed against is to be accepted by the parties and it remains binding on them other parties, including garnishees.
The court held that the appellant had prayed for leave to raise issues that this court did not have the benefit of the views of the court below. The court considered order 2 rule 12 of the Rules of the Court which provide that the court may exercise its discretion to accept fresh evidence. The court held that there was a mischievous purpose attached to the appellant’s application and no power in law inheres in the garnishee to fight the cause of a judgment debtor.
The court concluded that the cause of action available to the garnishee was quite limited and therefore the application in this case was an abuse of the court process.
The court dismissed the application with costs.
The parties concluded a loan agreement to facilitate the appellant’s purchase of immoveable property. The appellant provided 30% of the fee while the rest was covered by the loan amount. Upon purchase, the property was assigned to the respondent. When the appellant defaulted on payment, the respondent purported to sell the property in execution of the debt.
The appellant contested the legality of this recourse, arguing that the relationship between the parties was such that the respondent held the property in a trust, for her benefit as part-owner, and would do so until which time she had paid back the amount owing. The appellate court concurred with the trial judge that the parties’ transaction clearly amounted to an equitable mortgage – rather than an implied trust – and that the respondent could dispose of the property in execution of the debt without the appellant’s consent.
The trial court’s decision to non-suit the plaintiff/respondent was also upheld by the appellate bench, who considered the well-established criteria for such an award. As the plaintiff had not failed in toto to prove its case, the defendant was not in any event entitled to the court’s judgment and no injustice would be caused thereto by the order, the relevant factors were deemed satisfied.
The appeal was dismissed.
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.
The court determined the principles of granting a stay of execution and injunction pending appeal in a case that involves a state government.
The first respondent raised a preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court, since there was a stay of execution pending in the court below on the same issue and the first appellant had not appealed on the attachment of the appellant’s monies in banks (garnishee order). In determining its jurisdiction, the court applied Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2011 (Rules of the Court) and held that it had discretionary powers to make injunctions pending appeal even when no application lied in the court below depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Additionally, the court held that there was an appeal predicated on the garnishee order thus the issues were properly before it.
The court set out the principles of granting a stay of execution and injunction pending appeal: to preserve the subject matter of the appeal from irreparable damage pending appeal. It also held that the principles are applied when a party has an arguable appeal and to enhance public interest.
The court observed that the appellant had admitted its indebtedness to part of the judgment debt and held it just and fair to refuse the application with respect to that amount. The court held that the trial court erred in granting garnishee orders on balance of the judgment debt. Accordingly, the application succeeded in part.
The appellant challenged the decision of lower court where the respondent as judgement creditor was granted an order for revalidation of the judgement and an order for compliance judgment. On the appeal, the issue was whether the application was time-barred and grounds to grant the appeal.
The court held that money judgments automatically expire after ten years, therefore, the judgment creditor must file revalidation before the expiration of the ten years. Also held that judgements of courts remain valid until set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The court found that the application is not statute barred and that the application had merit. The court ordered that the judgment on 12 March 2001 remained valid and that the respondents to comply with the orders in the judgments.
On the cross-appeal, the issue was whether the judgment of 12 March 2001 is barred by Limitation Law of Bauchi State ss 16(1) and 16(2).
The court held that a judgment of a competent court is valid from the date of delivery until set aside by the court either on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction or court of appeal. Moreso, rules of practice and procedure do not confer jurisdiction to extend the time for enforcement beyond ten years as stipulated in ss 16(1) and (2).
The court found that the lower court did not have statutory authority to extend the time for enforcement after the expiry of ten years.
The court dismissed the appeal.
This case concerns the unauthorized sale of company shares the by stock brokers.
The Court of Appeal determined whether the lower court erred in its decision to find the appellants liable for the unauthorized and illegal sale of the respondent’s shares. The court held that evaluating evidence is primarily the role of the trial court and that the appellate court will only interfere where there is clear evidence that the lower court failed to evaluate the evidence properly. The court was not satisfied, however, that such evidence was presented. It therefore confirmed the lower court’s decision.
The court also considered whether the lower court correctly attributed costs. It held that decisions as to costs follow the overall decision and found that, in this case, the lower court’s decision regarding costs was reasonable and in accordance with the law. It, therefore, also dismissed this ground for appeal and the entire appeal.
The issue was whether a claimant is allowed by court rules to file witness statements and other documents in reply to a defendant’s defense to a claim.
The dispute emanated from a lower court’s decision to strike out the appellant’s reply to the respondents’ defense. The reply was struck out on the basis that it contained a written statement on oath and documents which was regarded as an amendment of the pleadings.
The appellant was challenging the decision to strike out on the grounds that the court rules impliedly provides for further documents and statements in reply to a defendants’ defense. On the other hand, the respondents opposed the appeal on the ground that the court rules do not provide for a reply to be accompanied with a witness statement and any other document.
In deciding the matter, the court held that order 18 of the High Court rules which deals with a reply to a statement of defense does not require that any document or statement shall be accompany such reply. It further ruled that where the words in a statute are clear and unambiguous, they ought to be accorded their simple grammatical interpretation. The appeal was thus dismissed.
The dispute emanated from an agreement between the appellant and the respondents to clear a debt owed to the appellant by the respondents. The agreement provided for reduction of the debt on the grounds that the respondents pay an initial payment of 500 million and the balance before the exit of Central Bank examiners who had who had come to inspect the appellant bank. After payment of all debt, the appellant required the respondents to pay R5.5 billion alleging that it did not pay the balance as agreed.
The respondents approached the court and an order that parties should maintain status quo until the matter was resolved was granted. The appellant then filed a petition to wind up the respondents which prompted the respondents to approach the court seeking a committal order arguing that the appellant was in contempt of court. This was opposed by a preliminary objection seeking to strike out the committal order. The court granted the objection while pointing out that it had no jurisdiction to decide on the matter.
The appellant appealed the decision to strike out citing lack of jurisdiction of the trial judge and that the judge did not consider all issues raised by appellants and that it should have dismissed not strike out the committal order.
The held that the trial judge correctly dealt with the issue and that since he had no jurisdiction, it was not necessary for him to consider issues regarding the merits of the case and dismissed the appeal.
This was an appeal against a decision of the court allowing an ex parte motion for the winding up of the appellant. The appeal was premised on the ground that the ex parte order was made against other parties who were not parties to the proceedings and were deprived of the right to be heard. The appellant further argued that the ex parte order was made without notice of the motion seeking the said orders being served on them which was regarded as contravening Order 4 of the Companies Winding-up Rules (the rules). The appellant also alleged abuse of court process by the respondent.
The respondent opposed the appeal by pointing out that issues raised by the appellant were substantial issues which cannot be dealt with in a preliminary objection. The respondent further disputed allegations of abuse of court process arguing that they at no point maintained two similar cases against the appellant.
The court held that where an order made by a court affects the interest of a non-party to a suit, the said party whose interest has been affected should complain. It ruled that it was out of place for the appellant to complain on behalf of the other parties. The court further pointed out that Order 4 of the rules does not allow freezing of assets and that the respondent breached Order 4 by filing an ex parte without serving a notice on the appellant. Thus the appeal was upheld.
The appeal was against a garnishee order attaching a sum of approximately N97 million belonging to the appellant granted by the lower court. The appeal was based on the claim that the garnishee order was made without hearing the appellants’ earlier motion for a of stay execution. This, the appellants argued, was a violation of their right to a fair trial.
The respondent raised a preliminary objection that the appellant had no standing because it was judgement debtor, not the garnishee. It further argued that the appellants had not obtained leave to appeal.
The appellants responded by pointing out that they were respondents to the garnishee application, and that the funds that were to be attached belonged to them. Thus, they had locus standi (the standing and right to file this appeal).
The court held that it is only the garnishee that can appeal an order made by the court. It ruled that garnishee proceedings are strictly between the creditor and the garnishee. It found that the appellant lacked locus standi to file the appeal and the appeal was dismissed.
This was an appeal against a garnishee order granted by the court. The appellant contended that the garnishee proceedings were null and void because the first respondent did not disclose that the second respondent fell within the jurisdiction of the lower court. Further, the appellant argued that there was abuse of court process because the garnishee order was made after the appellant was granted leave to appeal.
The respondent argued that the appellant was not a party to the garnishee proceeding and cannot challenge the procedure.
In deciding the matter, the court held that the question of the judgement creditor establishing that the garnishee was within jurisdiction was not for the judgement debtor to determine but the court. It found that the appellants were not parties to the garnishee proceedings and that an appeal does not operate as a stay of execution. The appeal was thus dismissed.
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 court considered three issues. Firstly, how a court should exercise its discretion in regulating a motion meant to regularise the process and the other meant to terminate the process. Secondly, whether the respondents were necessary parties to the suit. Lastly, whether the trial court was correct in awarding costs.
The court held that the practice was to give priority to hearing a motion set to regularise a process if the motion succeeds the other motions seeking to terminate the proceedings will be withdrawn. The court also held that respondents are necessary to a suit if they would be directly or financially affected by the outcome of the judgement of the case. Also, the court held that courts have absolute discretion to either award or refuse costs.
The court found that the trial judge instead of taking the motion for joinder and amendment, preliminary objections of the first and second respondent based on jurisdiction were taken which were meant to terminate the points in limine. The court also found that the respondents were necessary parties because they are not only interested in the subject matter of the proceedings, but they constitute those who in their absence the proceedings could not be fairly dealt with. The court found that the costs awarded were not exceptionally high or punitive to conclude that the court's discretion was not in the interest of justice.
The court accordingly upheld the appeal.
The court considered the admissibility of a land agreement, the conditions to prove for the existence of a customary arbitration and the court 's discretion in awarding damages.
The court held that for a document to be admissible it must be relevant to the facts in issue and fulfil the prescribed conditions in law. According to s 108 (1) of the Evidence Act Cap 112, courts are permitted to form their opinion about signatures. The court also held that the conditions for an existence of a customary arbitration are : (a) voluntary submission to arbitration, (b) agreement of binding decision of the arbitration, (c) arbitration was per custom, (d) published award and (d) acceptance of the award. The court held that general damages are the judge's discretion.
The court found that the trial judge was correct in admitting the document as evidence and establishing equitable interest in the land dispute and that the plaintiff had proved better title to the land. The court also found that the parties were aware fully aware of the land in dispute. The court further found that the evidence on record did not meet the condition for an existence of a customary arbitration. Relief cannot be claimed by a deceased person. Also, found that the pleading of the parties and evidence adduced were in tandem with the conclusion made by the trial judge according to s 149 of the Evidence Act.
The court accordingly dismissed the appeal and respondents awarded costs.
In this case, the respondent had filed an application for the enforcement of a judgment by means of garnishee proceedings. The court then granted an order of garnishee nisi, which the appellants then filed an affidavit to show cause. The matter was heard and the court made the garnishee order absolute. This case illustrates effect of a null judgment.
The court considered whether the High Court erred in granting the garnishee orders absolute. The court considered the direct effect of the judgment that had been made by the same court. The court had found that the judgment of the court below was incompetent and therefore a nullity.
The court held that the law was settled that, ‘out of nullity nothing worth anything or something can emerge or be predicated’. The court held that a null judgment though it existed as a fact, was devoid of any legal consequences. It was as if the judgment did not exist.
Therefore, the court concluded that the garnishee orders absolute made by the court below had automatically become nullity as well and were liable to be set aside ex debito justitiae (as of right).
The court upheld the appeal and wholly set aside the garnishee orders absolute.
The court determined that this was an application for special leave to appeal against the refusal of the Court of Appeal to discharge the order of the single judge of the Court of Appeal refusing to stay the execution of the preservation order made by the High Court.
The court determined whether the refusal to suspend the decision of the Court of Appeal could render the subsequent judgment nugatory. The court noted the difference between a stay and a suspension order. Further, the court stated that applications for the suspension of orders or decisions of lower courts where the conventional means of applying for stay of execution is not possible. The court held that the fact that the court granted the applicant leave to appeal against the ruling of the Court of Appeal was not an essential condition for the suspension of the ruling sought to be impeached. The court observed that the applicant raised the point that the failure of the application would render the subsequent judgment nugatory but failed to prove exceptional circumstances to merit the suspension of the order. Accordingly, the application was dismissed.
The plaintiff/appellant unsuccessfully sued the defendant/respondent for breach of contract following the latter’s refusal to accept delivery of the relevant goods. Curtailing the appellant’s sizeable claim for special damages, the High Court awarded only nominal damages – an order later confirmed by the Court of Appeal.
At the Supreme Court, the scope of section 48 of the Sale of Goods Act (the act) was elucidated: the computation of damages thereunder may be either general or special depending on the circumstances of each case. General damages refer to those which are foreseeable without proving that special circumstances were brought to the breaching party’s attention. Special damages are those which are foreseeable by the parties at the time of contracting because certain circumstances have been highlighted which render the damages within the realm of the signatories’ reasonable contemplation. These must be pleaded and proved at trial.
The plaintiff’s claim for special damages for the losses suffered by the breach was not proven before the High Court and were subsequently abandoned. The Supreme Court thus took the plaintiff to be entitled only to general damages under section 48 of the act. To this end, the plaintiff did not lead any evidence on the multipliers which would entitle the court to award enhanced damages. Section 48 caters to the contract price/market price differential and not to a computation of lost profits. The plaintiffs failed to adduce sufficient evidence to merit the proposed determination of damages and so the nominal award made by High Court in terms of s 48 was adequate.
The appeal was dismissed.
The appeal stemmed from the denial of the appellant's right to defend on merits due to the lower court’s grant of an Order 14 summary judgement in favor of the respondent, without properly engaging with the merits of the matter.
Substantively, the court held that in a summary judgement application the plaintiff must bring a prima facie case for the claim, which includes showing the basis of the claim, before the burden shifts to the defendant to defend. However, a complete defence is not required but rather the defendant only needs to show that he has a reasonable defence to the claim and his defence is not a sham or intended to delay payment.
Since the respondent’s claim had been based on an agreement and an alleged assignment, the court reasoned that on assessment of the evidence the argument of assignment lacked the element of intent and thus could not stand. Further, the argument that the respondent was a beneficiary of the agreement in question was unfounded. The trial court therefore erred in its decision to grant summary judgment as the very basis of the claim was reasonably challenged on the facts.
The court thus concluded that the appellant had been unjustifiably been shut out of trial. It thus allowed the appeal setting aside the summary judgement.
This case concerned the difference between a claim for special and general damages. The court found that damages is a method by which courts offer monetary reparation to persons whose rights in contract law have been violated, as a means to restore them to the situation in which they would have been but for the violation. Thus, damages play an invaluable role in the capacity of courts to give solatium (compensation or consolation) to the parties. Therefore, the claim for damages will be premised on the cause or causes of the violation and the consequences attached. The court found that in order to succeed with a claim for damages the plaintiff must satisfy the court with credible proof that there has been a breach, giving rise to the cause of action.
The plaintiff claimed loss of labour, unrefunded deposits and administrative expenses in its claim for damages, constituting special damages. While general damages are presumed by the law from the invasion of a right, special damages refer to the particular damage suffered by a party beyond that presumed by law from the mere fact of an invasion of a right and must be proved strictly by evidence. Thus, if a plaintiff does not specifically plead his loss and prove it, he cannot succeed in a claim for special damages.
The appeal succeeds in part.
The court considered an application by way of notice on motion for an interlocutory injunction restraining the respondents from enforcing the National Media Regulations pending the court’s determination of the substantive suit. The substantive suit related to declarations that the requirement for prior authorization of consent as well as the criminal sanctions were contrary to the Constitution.
The court confirmed that whereas in public law, a court ought to be slow in granting interlocutory injunction, it still has the power to grant one. This is especially so in exceptional cases where there is a need to restrain enforcement of legislation that is being challenged on substantial grounds. The courts will grant an injunction to avoid irreparable injury being caused by the enforcement of a potentially unconstitutional piece of legislation that is being challenged. On this basis, the application was granted.
The dispute related to dishonored cheques that were issued for payment of supplies. After several cheques were dishonored, the respondents went to the premises of the appellant to recover the remaining products. The trial court award general, special and nominal damages. However, the Court of Appeal reduced the general damages. They also held that nominal damages should not be awarded when there was a failure to prove special damages.
The court dealt with three issues relating to a potential error of law when the Court of Appeal substituted their judgment for that of the trial High Court, failure by the Court of Appeal to exercise their discretion judicially and issuing a judgment against the weight of evidence.
The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal could not set aside the trial High Court decision when there was no appeal against the relief granted by the High Court or challenge against the findings made. The Court of Appeal can only set aside aspects of the judgment that have been appeal against. The Court of Appeal can only reverse a trial court if the trial court made orders that were oppressive, excessive or contrary to the law.
The court was called upon to determine who was entitled to ownership and possession of property in dispute between two purchasers. One purchaser claimed the property because they executed a writ of fieri facias (writ of fifa) attaching the property to recover a debt but this was not executed. A writ of fifa is a document issued by the court for the purpose of enforcing a judgment debt by permitting a judgment debtor to have a legal right to seize the losing party’s property to recover the amount due to them
Sometime later another party attended an auction, another purchaser purchased the same piece of property.
The court held that the sale at the auction was illegal because of the principle of nemo dat which provides that the first person to get title is entitled to that property notwithstanding any subsequent sale. Therefore even though the writ of fifa has expired, the party who got judgment get title to the property as judgment debtor.
Litigation was commenced to recover a debt from a company incorporated in Australia that was wholly owned by a Ghanaian company. The High Court granted judgment in favour of the appellant for the amount due. The judgment was appealed because the respondent proposed a scheme of arrangement to reorganise their debts with their creditors. but the appellant subsequently the appellant filed a petition to liquidate the company as it was unable to pay off its debts. The court granted to wind up the company. However, the Court of Appeal granted a stay of execution of the winding-up before the respondent appealed the original decision of the High court to pay the amount due.
The appellant did not succeed with the appeal because they did not prove that the Court of Appeal failed to take relevant matters into consideration, considered irrelevant matters of misapplied the law.
This case concerns a dispute about land. The applicant sought an order of the Supreme Court to quash a mandamus order granted by the High Court. The applicant argued that the order made by the High Court breached natural justice because he was not served with the application in which the order was made. The Supreme Court held that the audi alteram patem rule, which requires a person to be heard in proceedings wherein a relief is sought that will affect him, must be followed in all circumstances. The evidence, in this case, showed that the applicant was not served, constituting a breach of the audi alteram patem rule. Given this breach of natural justice, the Supreme Court upheld the appeal and quashed the lower court’s order.
The Fees and Charges Act (the act) calculated the plaintiff’s rent for five mining leases. The plaintiff challenged the Minister of Finance’s authority to amend the legislation.
Issue one: whether the Administrator of Stool Lands had any role to play in fixing annual ground rents. The court held that the Administrator did not fix the rates, but wrote to demand payment.
Issue two: whether the administrator was part of a review team that recommended the adjustments, amounting to prescribing annual ground rent. The administrator provided an advisory opinion with no legal force.
Issue three: whether the grant of power to the Minister of Finance was unconstitutional. A schedule forms part of an act. Subordinate legislation cannot amend an act; however, this rule is not invariable regarding schedules. Acts may empower another to revise the contents of a schedule, and this power must be expressly conferred by Parliament. It was found that it was.
Issue four: whether or not the Fees and Charges Instruments contravened the act and the Constitution. The Minister of Finance was empowered to amend the schedule in fixing fees and charges; however the inclusion of the administrator in the amended list was inconsistent with the Constitution, and void to the extent of this inclusion
Issue five: whether the power conferred on the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources was transferred to the Minister of Finance. The court held that no such transfer of power occurred.
Issue six: whether the failure by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources to exercise the power conferred on him in the act violated the Constitution. The Minister of Mines was empowered in terms of the act; however the parties incorrectly cited the Minister of Lands.
The Minister of Mines was ordered to fix the fees and charges under the act.
The plaintiff/appellant was aggrieved the Court of Appeal’s reduction of a damages award made by the High Court pursuant to its compensation claim for wrongful termination of employment. The Court of Appeal held that the award was excessive on several grounds – a finding that formed the basis of this appeal.
The Supreme Court emphasised that the court’s discretion to award damages must be done so judiciously. That the trial judge’s order was influenced by factors such as the size of the plaintiff’s family, the defendant/respondent’s instituting of a failed prosecution and delays in court proceedings – which the appellant sought in vain to attribute to the respondent – rendered the extent of the award ill-considered. Moreover, the High Court neglected to provide a terminating point for the computation of the appellant’s salary and allowances, which translated to excessiveness. Guided by the case law, the court fashioned a reasonable award which more closely considered the parties’ situation.
Deviating from the Court of Appeal’s order, the Supreme Court found it was unfair that payment of the appellant’s other employment entitlements was limited to its provident fund. It therefore altered this portion of the below court’s order to reflect that the appellant be paid all earnings, entitlements or remuneration which it was owed for the period of fifteen months after the wrongful dismissal. It similarly reversed the Court of Appeal’s substitution of the High Court’s award of three-months’ salary to one-month’s salary, finding that this reduction was unfair in the absence of any reasoning therefor.
The appeal was upheld in part.