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 applicant was seeking a clarification of a court judgement.
The case emanated from a dismissal of an appeal by the first respondent to challenge a decision of the High Court in favour of Fidelity Bank. The plaintiff sought clarification of the judgement. It sought clarification on the nature of interest to paid and why the applicant and the respondent were jointly liable for payment of outstanding loan.
The court held that there was a contract between the applicant and the respondent and it provided that the applicant should obtain a loan from Fidelity Bank (the bank). The bank required an undertaking from both the applicant and the respondent that they are going to be jointly responsible for the repayment of the loan. The court found that the respondent reneged on all payments under the contract in the joint names and thus contributed to the non-payment of the loan, hence its liability.
On interest, the court ruled that the undertaking between the parties bears three different interest rates. It pointed out that the parties in this transaction are governed by their undertakings hence interest is calculable on the terms agreed.
The respondent refused to accept the principle of simple interest. The appellant declined to pay compound interest. The dispute was taken to court for resolution. The liability whether to pay compound or simple interest can only commence from the date when the dispute whether to pay that interest is resolved.
The court held that when determining which interest to use a clear distinction needs to be made between the reasons for awarding a simple interest and those that justify an award of compound interest in legal proceedings. A simple interest arises invariably when a party which is liable or owes money fails to pay what is due before or on the date agreed, stipulated, implied. The court exercises its discretion as to the rate and date when interest shall be paid.
However, the award of compound interest depends on other different criteria beside the discretion of court. Compound interest is not founded simply on the mere fact of indebtedness nor on the date the principal debt becomes due nor on the duration it has taken to pay since accruing. It is based on one or more of a multiplicity of reasons such as the law applicable to the transaction, the nature of the business transacted or agreed between the parties, the construction of the agreement or contract made between the parties, the trade custom of the business out of which the indebtedness arose, intentions of the parties or the consequences of the commercial transaction that was concluded between them.
The court concluded that the arguments advanced on behalf of the respondent did not point to the award of a characteristically compound interest. There was no evidence presented or authorities cited to suggest that in this case compound interest was intended, implied or anticipated by the parties or implied by law. The authorities cited in this appeal did not assist court to decide that there was a compound interest implied or contemplated in this case. In the result, the appeal succeed.