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A DIVISIBLE CONTRACT

Dictum

A divisible contract is separable into parts, so that separate parts of the agreed consideration may be assigned to severable parts of the performance. Such divisible agreements admit of pro rata payments for each portion that was performed, and is independent of performance of other parts of the contract.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. BFI v. Bureau PE (2012) – SC.12/2008

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WHEN INTERPRETING A CONTRACTUAL DOCUMENT THE WHOLE DOCUMENT SHOULD BE TAKEN CONSIDERATION OF

I am in full support of the submission of appellant’s counsel that it was a misdirection for the lower court in consideration of whether the land, the subject matter in controversy, was bare land or included the structures thereon to have relied on only clauses 3 and 6 in the entire lease agreement to arrive at its conclusion. The learned Justices of the lower court were clearly in error because it is a fundamental rule of construction of instruments that its several clauses, must be interpreted harmoniously so that the various parts of the instrument are not brought in conflict to their natural meaning. Emphasising the same point, the learned authors of Halsbury’s Laws of England. Vo1.12, (4th ed.) para. 1469) stated tersely but pointedly: “The best construction of deeds is to make one part of the deed expound the other, and so make all the parts agree. Effect must, so far as possible, be given to every word and every clause.” The same principle was approved by this Court in Lamikoro Ojokolobo & Ors. v. Lapade Alamu & Anor. (1987) 7 SCNJ 98, (1987) 3 NWLR (pt.61) 339. Surely, a fragmentary interpretation of the various clause of the lease agreement without recourse to the entire Lease Agreement would do violence to the content in which the controversial terms “premises” and “land” were employed and therefore the ascertainment of the parties’ intention in relation to these two terms was bound to be distorted and erroneous and consequently unacceptable.

— Achike, JSC. Unilife v. Adeshigbin (2001) 4 NWLR (Pt.704) 609

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WHEN AGREEMENT IS MADE

An agreement is made where there exists an offer, acceptance, consideration, capacity to contract and intention to create legal relationship. – Niki Tobi JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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WHERE CONTRACTUAL NEW TERM CAN BE INTRODUCED

Where parties enter into an agreement and subsequently decide to introduce new terms, they can only do so by specific reference to the earlier agreement to the effect that the later agreement has introduced new terms thereof.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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PARTIES BOUND BY AGREEMENT

It is trite law that persons of full age and sound mind are bound by any agreement lawfully entered into by them. – Kutigi JSC. Okonkwo v. Cooperative Bank (2003)

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COURTS DO NOT MAKE CONTRACTS FOR PARTIES

It is fundamental that the courts will neither make a contract for the parties nor inquire into the adequacy of a consideration. – Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Petroleum v. Owodunni (1991)

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SEVERAL PERSONS – ONLY THOSE WHO ENTER CONTRACT ARE LIABLE

In the case of Chief Olowofoyeku v. The Attorney-General of Oyo State (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt. 132) 369, cited by learned Senior Advocate for the appellants, the Court of Appeal correctly held that where an agreement is intended to be made by several persons jointly, if any of those persons failed to enter into the agreement, there is no contract, and liability is incurred by such of them as have entered into the agreement.

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