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 sued the appellant for default of payment in respect of loans granted to the appellant by the respondent in the course of the appellant’s employment.
The appellant claimed that liability in respect of the car loan should not have been determined solely by reference to the formal contract. Instead, the court should have had regard to extrinsic evidence.
The appellant further claimed that the summary judgment granted against him by the court below was erroneously made as there was a plausible dispute between the parties for which leave should have been granted to the appellant to defend the action. The respondent contended that the factual situation representing the appellant's defence did not constitute a good defence on the merit to the claim of the respondent. This court agreed with the respondent.
The appellant submitted that his continued retention in the employment of the respondent was a condition precedent to his repayment of the loans and his employment having been terminated, the enforcement of the personal loans had been frustrated. This court held that this stance was not sustainable because the contracts of employment and personal loans between the parties were two distinct contracts and their duration not co-existent. Thus, the appeal was dismissed.
The respondent/plaintiff had sued the appellant/defendant for a liquidated debt following its default in payment and successfully applied for the matter to be placed on the undefended list. There it was heard exclusively on the papers to the respondent/plaintiff’s success. Two issues emerged on appeal: whether the trial court’s judgment contradicted the evidence, and whether the appellant’s notice of intention to defend disclosed a defence on the merits of the case, thereby justifying the matter’s transfer to the general cause list.
The appellate court held in favour of the respondents on both issues, finding first that the court had been thorough in its analysis of the evidence before it, and had crafted a reasoned order reflecting this.
The judge elucidated the purpose of the undefended list as a vehicle for swift justice where a defendant has no credible case. This was one such instance; the court found that the appellant had failed to raise a triable issue warranting the matter’s transfer to the general cause list. The appellant’s allegations of fraud did not conform to the recognised rules for establishing such a claim and were found lack any substance.
The appellant unsuccessfully invoked s 36(1) of the Constitution, contending that its right to a fair hearing had been breached through its being deprived of a comprehensive trial. The court affirmed the lawful function of the undefended list, emphasising that parties are given equal opportunities to be heard via the papers. Where a defendant was unable to raise a triable issue against the plaintiff’s claim, it could not resort to arguing that audi alterem partem had been flouted.
The appeal was dismissed.
This was an appeal on a decision of the High Court determining the title of a land.
The court determined whether the judgment by the trial court was a nullity on grounds of being delivered after three months in contravention of s 294(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The court applied the rule that a judgment in such a case may only be nullified if the appellant can prove that the delay in the delivery caused a miscarriage of justice. The court observed that the trial court did not properly evaluate evidence of the witness and made a declaratory order where the identity of the land was unknown. Secondly, the court determined whether the trial court erred in relying on pleadings that were amended and the court found that the trial court caused a miscarriage of justice for doing so. Finally, the court determined whether the trial court erred by declaring the title of the disputed land in favour of the respondents and resolved the issue in favour of the appellant.
Accordingly, the appeal succeeded, the judgment of the High Court was set aside and an order as to costs was made against the respondents.
The issue was whether the trial judge’s decision was affected by the lapse of time (19 months) between the adoption of written addresses and the delivery of judgment. The dispute emanated from the dismissal of the respondent as the principal assistant registrar of the appellant college. The respondent successfully challenged the dismissal and the lower court awarded him damages amounting to approximately 1.6 million Naira together with reinstatement.
The appellant challenged the lower court’s ruling on the grounds that due to the time lapse between the hearing of evidence and delivery of judgement the trial judge was not able to make proper judgement. The appellants further argued that the s 294(1) Constitution requires that judgement must be delivered in 3 months.
The court pointed out that section 294(5) of the Constitution also provides that delay in the delivery of judgment does not lead to a judgment being vitiated. The delay must occasion a miscarriage of justice to result in such a conclusion.
In deciding the matter, the court held that the errors made by the trial judge shows that he was no longer in position to properly appraise the evidence. This resulted in the miscarriage of justice and the appeal was upheld.
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 respondent successfully brought a suit against the appellants for
declaration that she was the rightful owner of the suit land, vacant
possession, permanent injunction and damages. The appellants were
dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court hence this appeal.
Aggrieved by a High Court decision concerning a dispute with the respondent, the applicant sought leave to escalate the matter to the Court of Appeal. The High Court summarily rejected the application without notice to the parties and prior to the set-down date of the hearing.
The appellate court was wholly convinced by the applicant’s main contention: that the High Court judgment was impugnable because the parties had not yet been heard at the time it was given. Outlining the basic tenets of the audi alterem partem principle, the court affirmed that courts are obligated to afford the parties a full hearing before determining the disputed matter on merit.
The appellate court invoked its revisional powers under section 4(3) of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act, setting aside the High Court’s decision and directing it to rehear the application.
The appellants – employees of NECTA, a state-affiliated corporate entity – were aggrieved after being transferred by order of the respondent, the Permanent Secretary, to various other institutions under the control of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. Unsuccessful in their review application at the High Court, the appellants contended on appeal that the respondent’s decision was made ultra vires. They argued further that it had violated the requirements of natural justice by failing to provide them with an opportunity to be heard prior to its making.
The appellate court found that the relevant provisions of the Public Service Act (‘the act’) empower the Chief Secretary to facilitate ‘labour mobility’ amongst certain state-affiliated employers, of which NECTA was one. The court held further that a purposive interpretation of section 8 of the act recognised the transfer of employees in the contemplated manner as an essential aspect of ‘labour mobility’. The act enlists the Permanent Secretary as the principal assistant to the Chief Secretary in relation to the administration of public service, meaning that the delegation of power unto it, and subsequent exercise thereof, was duly authorised by law.
Because the appellants’ employment benefits had not been impacted by the decision, and the proceedings had not been disciplinary in nature, the respondent was not lawfully required to give the appellants an opportunity to be heard. Therefore, no rules of natural justice had been breached.
The appeal was dismissed and the parties ordered to bear their own costs.
The appellants had been dismissed from their employment by the respondent, the Institute of Social Work, following their alleged participation in an unprotected strike. The matter was heard by the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA), and then the High Court, to outcomes with which both parties were aggrieved. On appeal, the litigants lodged multiple grounds for consideration (the respondent cross-appealing), which the appellate court condensed into three main issues.
First, the respondents argued that the appeal by the second to twenty-first appellants was incompetent because they did not file a case before the CMA. The respondents argued that the appellants ought to have filed an application for a representative suit under order VIII rule 7 of the Civil Procedure Code. However, the court found that there are specific provisions under the labour laws which are instructive regarding labour disputes involving several employees. The court highlighted section 86(1) of the Employment and Labour Relations Act (ELR), as well as rules 5(2), 5(3) and 12(1) of the Mediation Rules and found that the appellants had acted in accordance therewith.
Secondly, that the appellants were not given clear charges for their misconduct and were denied an opportunity to be heard during the disciplinary proceedings was a clear violation of the constitutional principle of natural justice. The termination was therefore void and of no legal effect.
Lastly, because no fair or valid reason in terms of the labour law had been clearly stated to the employees for their termination, this meant that it was unfair under section 37(2) of the ELR, as well as contrary to rule 8(1)(c) and (d) of the ELR Code of Good Practice Rules.
The appeal was upheld with the court setting aside the decisions of the CMA and the High Court. The appellants were granted leave to institute proceedings against the respondent before the CMA de novo (afresh) so as to determine their rights. Each party was ordered to bear their own costs.