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.
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.
Appeal against the lower court’s judgment dismissing its suit to declare the actions of the respondents to be illegal, and unconstitutional.
There were four issues for determination: whether the lower court’s decision was wrongly founded on a non-viable, invalid, and non-existent statement of defence; whether the lower court erred in holding that the appellant was a registered member of the respondents’ association; whether the respondents may rely on the defence available to the defendants’ association, which was not party to the proceedings; and whether the lower court erred in dismissing the appellant’s claims.
The court found that the lower court granted the application to amend the statement of defence. The amended statement already filed was deemed as properly served and filed. This order was not challenged by the appellants and was binding on the parties.
The second issue was decided in favour of the appellant. The appraisal of evidence and ascription of probative value thereto was the exclusive purview of the trial court. An appellate court will only interfere if the findings made were found to be perverse or unsupported by the evidence adduced. On examining the record, the court held that the trial court erred in finding that the appellant was a member of the respondents’ association, and the interests of justice justified an interference with the findings.
Issue three was held to be unrelated to any complaint or portion of the trial court’s judgment, and issue four was resolved in favour of the appellant.
Appeals – evidence before trial judge leading to draw inferences and conclusions on the facts of the case
The plaintiff applied to the court to enter judgment on admission for the plaintiff because the defendant materially admitted all the facts; and that the court should only be addressed on the issue of general damages and costs.
The court concluded that since the defendant in this case agreed to and admitted all the material facts in the plaintiff’s claim, there remained no other triable issues for the court to consider.
A ‘triable issue’ was defined as an issue that only arises when a material proposition of law or fact is affirmed by the one party and denied by the other; however the parties are bound by their pleadings and cannot be allowed to depart from them.
The court held that an admission has to be clear and unambiguous and must state precisely what is being admitted. Once an admission of facts is made, court may upon application make such order or file such judgment.
It is against this backdrop that the judgment on admission was entered.
The appellant who undertook to invest and acquire shares in a telecom company brought an action
against the respondents for breach of contract, damages and interest. The appellant’s suit was dismissed
on a preliminary point of law as it disclosed no cause of action against the 2 nd and 3 rd respondents.
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.