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GENERAL DAMAGES ARE PRESUMED BY THE LAW

Dictum

General damages are what the law presumes, but they must flow from the type of wrong complained about by the plaintiff and they frequently result from the tort for which the plaintiff has sued. They are at large in that the quantum of general damages need not be pleaded and proved as they are supposed to be a compensation for the loss or inconvenience flowing naturally from the wrong. They are thus not quantifiable but assessable by the trial Court taking the relevant matters into consideration.

– Yahaya, JCA. MTN v. Ezugwu (2018)

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OBJECT OF AN AWARD OF GENERAL DAMAGES

The object of an award of general damages is to compensate the plaintiff, as far as money can do so, for the damages, loss or injury he has suffered. The guiding principle is restitution in integrum. It envisages that a party which has been damnified by the act which is called in question must be put in the position he would have been if he had not suffered the wrong which he is now being compensated for. In other words, the loss inevitably and unavoidably flowing from the breach. See: Chief S.I. Agu Vs General Oil Ltd. (2015) LPELR -24613 (SC) @ 31-32 G-B; NEPA Vs R.O. Alli & Anor. (1992) 10 SCNJ 34; Ijebu-Ode L.G. Vs Adedeji Balogun & Co., Ltd (1991) 1 NWLR (Pt.166) 136.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. MTN v. Corporate (2019) – SC.674/2014

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WHERE GENERAL DAMAGES IS CLAIMED – WRONG PRINCIPLES

When the issue of liability is established by a plaintiff and he claims general damages, the duty is on the trial Court to assess the quantum. Once that is done, an appellate Court will be wary of disturbing the award. However, where the award is manifestly too high or too low or based on wrong principles of law, an appellate Court will be justified and will be bound to interfere with the award.

– Yahaya, JCA. MTN v. Ezugwu (2018)

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GENERAL DAMAGES ARE LOSSES THAT FLOW NATURALLY

Once breach of contract is established, damages follow. General damages are thus losses that flow naturally from the adversary and it is generally presumed by law, as it need not be pleaded or proved. See UBN Ltd. v. Odusote Bookstores Ltd. 1995 9 NWLR pt. 421 p558 General damages is awarded by the trial court to assuage a loss caused by an act of the adversary. An appeal Court is always loath to interfere with such award, but will be compelled to do so: (a) Where the trial judge acted under a misapprehension of facts, or law; (b) Where he failed to take into account relevant matters; (c) Where the amount awarded is too low or too high; (d) Where failing to interfere would amount to injustice. Damages are awarded to restore the plaintiff as far as money can to the position he would have been if there had been no breach. That is to say to compensate the plaintiff for the loss.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Cameroon v. Otutuizu (2011) – SC.217/2004

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GENERAL DAMAGES ARE INCAPABLE OF EXACT CALCULATION

General damages are presumed by law to be the direct and probable consequence of the act complained of. General damages are generally incapable of substantially exact calculation. There is therefore no scientific, or empirical formula to be followed in arriving at an award of general damages. That is why as far back as 1870 it was held that general damages are such as the jury may give, when the judge cannot point out any measure by which they are to be assessed except the opinion and judgment of reasonable men. See PREHN V. THE ROYAL BANK OF LIVERPOOL (1870) LR 5 EXCHIBIT 92. Therefore as long as the award of general damages aligns with what can be perceived or considered as one that can, in the opinion of reasonable men be capable of being awarded, there will be no reason to disturb the award.

– O. Daniel-Kalio, JCA. Egypt v. Abdoulaye (2017) – CA/K/540/2014

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PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY OF JUDICIAL ACTS

This practice is informed by the presumption, reinforced by section 168(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011 (formerly section 150(1) of the Evidence Act, 1990), that provides that when a judicial act is shown to have been done in a manner substantially regular, it is presumed that all formal requisites for its validity were complied with. There is, in this further appeal, no viable complaint against the formal requisites for the validity of the concurrent judgments, the subject of this further appeal.

– Eko JSC. Chemiron v. Stabilini (2018)

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PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

The law has crystalized in our criminal jurisprudence that an accused person is presumed innocent until he or she is proved guilty. The prosecution is saddled with the burden of proving the guilt of the accused person and the standard of such proof in criminal cases or trial is proof beyond reasonable doubt.

– Adamu Jauro, JSC. Enabeli v. State (2021)

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