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 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 $51,700 created a rebuttable presumption that authentic dollars were deposited. It pointed to the teller stamp and initials as consituting prima facie proof of payment and after producing that the respondent need not to go further. The appeal was thus dismissed.
The issue was whether the High Court had jurisdiction to order the freezing of the bank accounts of the applicant.
The dispute emanated from an order to freeze the applicant’s three bank accounts after allegations of money laundering by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC). The applicant was accused of illegally receiving approximately US$ 43 000 and remittance of US$ 39 000 from a Canadian company. The applicant tried without success to apply to defreeze the bank accounts.
The applicant further applied arguing that the Anti-Money Laundering Act (the act) only allowed the bank accounts to be frozen for one year. It pointed out that the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction when it dismissed the application because the statutory period of 12 months had lapsed. They also challenged the decision to freeze all the accounts including money that was not part of the laundering investigation on the basis that it was an infringement of the right to natural justice.
The FIC argued that that investigation of allegation of fraud, which is criminal in nature, is not affected by time constraints.
The court held that one year was enough for FIC to investigate any alleged wrong-doing. It ruled that High Court lacked the jurisdiction to order the continuous freezing of the accounts of the applicant beyond the one year. It further ruled that moneys which stood in the accounts of the applicants before any alleged illegal transfers into the accounts should not form part of the freezing order.
The applicants have succeeded in obtaining the relief which they sought before this court. There are no special reason warranting departure from the usual conclusion that costs should follow the result. The applicants are therefore entitled to recover their costs of suit.
In the result, IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. Exchange Control Directive No. R120/2018 issued by the first respondent through its Governor on 4 October 2018 be and is hereby declared to be invalid, and is accordingly set aside.
2. The first respondent shall pay to the applicant the sum of US$142 000.00 in the currency of the United States of America or transfer that amount into a Nostro Foreign Currency Account as may be directed by the applicants within seven days from the date of this order together with interest thereon at the prescribed rate of 5 percent per annum from the 17th October 2018, being the date of the letter of demand, to the date of full payment or transfer into the Nostro Foreign Currency Account as directed herein.
3. The respondents shall pay the costs jointly and severally the one paying the others to be absolved.
Tendai Biti Law, applicants’ legal practitioners
Mawere Sibanda, first respondent’s legal practitioners
GN Mlotshwa & Company, second respondent’s legal practitioners
Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s Office, third respondent’s legal practitioners