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WHERE GENERAL DAMAGES IS CLAIMED – WRONG PRINCIPLES

Dictum

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 ARISES BY INFERENCE OF LAW

On the general damages claimed, it needs not be specifically pleaded. It arises from inference of law and need not be proved by evidence. It suffices once generally averred in the pleadings. As I stated earlier, they are presumed by the law to be the direct and probable consequence of the act of the defendant complained of. Unlike special damages, it is generally incapable of substantially exact calculation.

– ARIWOOLA J.S.C. Union Bank v. Chimaeze (2014)

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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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GENERAL DAMAGES NEED NOT BE PLEADED AND PROVED

The law is settled beyond peradventure that general damages are always made as a claim at large. The quantum need not be pleaded and proved. The award is quantified by what, in the opinion of a reasonable person, is considered adequate loss or inconvenience which flows naturally, as generally presumed by law, from the act of the defendant. It does not depend upon calculation made and figure arrived at from specific items. The issue of award of damages in any given case is a matter based on the discretion of the trial Court.

– Ogakwu, JCA. Kupolati v. MTN (2020)

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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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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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PAIN AND SUFFERING SHOULD BE AWARDED UNDER GENERAL DAMAGES

Once a plaintiff has successfully shown that he suffered personal injury as a result of a breach of duty owed him by the defendant, the claim for pain and suffering must be considered. No principle can be laid down upon which damages for pain and suffering can be awarded in terms of the quantum. There is, however, no doubt that pain and suffering is a recognized head of award that sounds in general damages. The court must consider what the compensation should be going by the evidence that gives an insight into the intensity of the pain and suffering. The award is usually generous although it should not be excessively high or grossly low. It must be such as reasonably tends to reflect the intensity of the pain and suffering.

– Uwaifo JSC. C & C Constr. v. Okhai (2003) – SC.8/1999

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