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A FAILED CONTRACT – BREACHED CONTRACT

Dictum

A contract can be discharged by breach. A breach of contract means that the party in breach has acted contrary to the terms of the contract either by non-performance or by performing the contract not in accordance with its terms or by a wrongful repudiation of the contract. A party who has paid money to another person for a consideration that has totally failed under a contract is entitled to claim the money back from the other.

– Adekeye JSC. Nwaolisah v. Nwabufoh (2011)

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COURT OF LAW WILL NOT ENFORCE AN ILLEGAL CONTRACT OR ALLOW ITSELF TO BE USED AS AN INSTRUMENT OF FRAUD

As at 1981 when he commenced negotiation to purchase the land, he held no title, customary or statutory which he could validly pass to the respondent. Any agreement reached between the appellant and the respondent which enabled the latter to hold the legal estate in the land for the benefit of the appellant would be unenforceable since the appellant could not pass any title to the respondent. A Court should not enforce an illegal contract or allow itself to be made the instrument of enforcing obligations alleged to arise out of a contract or transaction which is illegal provided the illegality is brought to the notice of the Court and the person invoking the aid of the Court is himself implicated in the illegality. The illegality disclosed here is the attempt by the appellant to circumvent the provisions of the Land Use Act and this is against public policy and a contract may be against public policy either from the nature of the acts to be performed or from the nature of the consideration. Where a transaction is on the face of it, or from the facts adduced in evidence or the surrounding circumstances, apparently illegal, the Court must act to enforce and protect the law of the land. See: Sodipo v. Lemminkainen OY (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt. 8) 547.

— K.B. Aka’ahs, JSC. Huebner v Aeronautical Ind. Eng. (2017) – SC.198/2006

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FAILURE TO PERFORM WITHIN TIME IS BREACH OF CONTRACT

Finally the law is that time is of essence where the parties have expressly made it so, or where circumstances show that it is intended to be of essence or where a definite time is fixed for execution of a mercantile and the contract even though time is not expressly made of the essence, thus failure to perform the contract within the limit will constitute a breach. Performance must be rendered within a reasonable in the absence of any specification as to time in the contract itself.

– Adekeye JSC. Nwaolisah v. Nwabufoh (2011)

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COURT SHOULD TREAT AS SACROSANCT TERMS OF AGREEMENT BY PARTIES

It must be reiterated here that the court must treat as sacrosanct the terms of an agreement freely entered into by the parties. This is because parties to a contract enjoy their freedom to contact on their own terms so long as same is lawful. The terms of a contract between parties are clothed with some degree of sanctity and if any question should arise with regard to the contract, the terms in any document which constitute the contract are invariably the guide to its interpretation when parties enter into a contract, they are bound by the terms of the contract as set out by them. It is not the business of the court to rewrite a contract for the parties. See Afrotech Services Nig Ltd. v. M.A. & Sons Ltd. (2002) 15 NWLR (pt. 692) 730 at 788.

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

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WHEN A CONTRACT OF SALE EXISTS

A contract of sale exists where there is a final and complete agreement of the parties on essential terms of the contract, namely the parties to the contract, the property to be sold, the consideration for the sale and the nature of the interest to be granted. Once there is agreement on these essential terms, a contract of sale of land or property is made and concluded. In a contract for sale of property, where part, payment was paid, the law is that the contract for purchase has been concluded and is final, leaving the payment of the balance outstanding to be paid, The contract for the sale and purchase is absolute and complete for which each party can be in breach for non-performance and for which an action can be maintained for specific performance.

— O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Mini Lodge v. Ngei (2009) – SC.231/2006

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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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