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APPELLATE COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE WITH AN AWARD OF DAMAGES AWARDED

Dictum

The law is settled that an appellate Court will not ordinarily interfere with an award of damages made by a trial Court unless it is shown that in the assessment and award of damages, the trial Court applied a wrong principle of law or misapprehended the facts or that the award is so high or so low.

— M.O. Bolaji-Yusuff, JCA. CCB v Nwankwo (2018) – CA/E/141/2017

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WHEN APPELLATE COURT WILL INTERFERE IN DAMAGES AWARDED

An award of damages is within the discretionary powers of the court. An appellate court would not usually interfere with a previous award unless satisfied (a) that the trial court acted under a mistake of law; or (b) where the trial court acted in disregard of some principle of law; or (c) where it acted under a misapprehension of facts; or (d) where it has taken into account irrelevant matters or failed to take into account relevant matters; or (e) where injustice would result if the appellate court does not interfere; or (f) where the amount awarded is either ridiculously low or ridiculously high that it must have been a wholly erroneous estimate of the damage.

– Kekere-Ekun JSC. British v. Atoyebi (2014) – SC.332/2010

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DAMAGES FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT IS BASED ON RESTITUTIO IN INTEGRUM

In awarding damages in an action founded on breach of contract, the rule to be applied is restitutio in integrum that is, in so far as the damages are not too remote, the plaintiff shall be restored as far as money can do it, to the position in which he would have been if the breach had not occurred.

– ADEKEYE, J.S.C. Cameroon v. Otutuizu (2011) – SC.217/2004

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DAMAGES ARE ALWAYS IN ISSUE

Damages are always in issue and so failure to deny them is not fatal: Re The Nigerian Produce Marketing Board v. Adewunmi (1972) 11 S.C. 111.

— Edozie, JCA. British American v. Ekeoma & Anor. (1994) – CA/E/60/88

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DAMAGES – WHEN APPELLATE COURT WILL INTERFERE WITH DAMAGES AWARDED

Damages are awarded at the discretion of the trial Court, and so an appeal Court is reluctant to interfere with how the trial Court exercises its discretion unless: a) The exercise is tainted within illegality or substantial irregularity. b) If it is in the interest of justice of interfere. c) The discretion is wrongly exercised. See C.B.N vs. Okojie (supra) and University of Lagos vs. Aigoro (1985) 1 NWLR (part 1) 43 and Salu Vs Egeibon (1994) 6 NWLR (part 349) 23. An appellate Court would also interfere when it is satisfied That: a) The trial Court acted under a mistake of law; or b) The trial Court acted in disregard to some principles of law; or c) The trial Court acted under a misapprehension of facts; or d) The trial Court took into account irrelevant matters or failed to take into account relevant maters, or e) Injustice would result if the appellate Court does not interfere, or f) The amount awarded is ether ridiculously low or ridiculously high, that it must have been a wholly erroneous estimate of the damages – British Airways vs. Atoyebi (2014) 13 NWLR (part 1424) 253 at 265 266; African Newspapers (Nig.) Plc vs. Useni (2015) 3 NWLR (part 1447) 464 at 475 476 and Guardian Newspapers Ltd vs. Ajeh (2011) 10 NWLR (part 1256) 574.

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TRESPASS: SPECIAL VS GENERAL DAMAGES

In an action for damages for special damages for trespass, special dam-ages must be pleaded and strictly proved, the value pleaded being normally a reflection of the prevailing market prices. The vital difference between a claim for compensation under the Land Use Act and compensation in trespass Is that general damages is only claimable in trespass.

— Obaseki, JSC. Foreign Finance Corp. v Lagos State Devt. & Pty. Corp. & Ors. (1991) – SC. 9/1988

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RATIONALE FOR DAMAGES AWARD

The primary object of an award of damages is to compensate the plaintiff for the harm done to him or a possible secondary object is to punish the defendant for his conduct in inflicting that harm. The rationale behind the compensatory theory for the award of damages is found in the maxim restitutio in integrum. In other words, to restore the injured party to the position he or she was in prior to the injury.

– Kekere-Ekun JSC. British v. Atoyebi (2014) – SC.332/2010

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