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AWARD OF DAMAGES FOLLOWS BREACH OF CONTRACT

Dictum

An award of damages usually follows a breach of contract so as to compensate the injured party for loss following naturally and within the contemplation of the parties. Damages is attached to a breach following an enforceable contract. Where there was no such contract an award of damages by any Court is not only a misconception but a contradiction in terms as such award is based on a wrong principle of law. This court has a duty not to allow such an award to stand.

— Adekeye, JSC. Best Ltd. v. Blackwood Hodge (2011) – SC

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WHEN TERMS OF CONTRACT ARE CLEAR, INTERPRETATION IS NEGLIGIBLE

In the construction of a contract, the meaning to be placed on it is that which is the plain, clear and obvious result of the terms used. A contract or document is to be construed in its ordinary meaning, When the language of a contract is not only plain but admits of one meaning, the task of interpretation is negligible. See: Union Bank of Nig. Ltd & Anr Vs Nwaokolo (1995) 6 NWLR (Pt. 400) 127: Aouad & Anor Vs Kessrawani (1956) 1 FSC 35: Nwanowu Vs Nzekwu & Anor (19571 3 FSC 36: Orient Bank (Nig) Plc Vs Bilante Int. Ltd (19971 8 NWLR (Pt. 515) 37 @ 78 B-D.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun JSC. B.O. Lewis v. United Bank for Africa Plc. (SC.143/2006, 14 January 2016)

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CONTRACT OF SERVICE AT COMMON LAW VS IN STATUTORY FLAVOUR

It is important to recognise the distinction between a contract of personal service and a contract of service. There is also the distinction between a contract of service at common law, and a contract with statutory favour. Whereas at common law a contract of personal service is determinable by the master at will without cause a contract of service is determinable by the master on reasonable notice or on the notice stipulated in the contract of the parties. A strict compliance with the statutory requirements for determination is required in contracts re-enforced by Statute or created by statute.

— A.G. Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Olaniyan & Ors. v. University of Lagos (1985) – SC.53/1985

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WHERE CONTRACT IS MADE SUBJECT TO CONDITION PRECEDENT

It is noteworthy that a contract of sale of the nature is guided by the basic rules of contract. Where a contract is made subject to the fulfillment of certain specific terms and conditions the contract is not formed and not binding unless and until those terms and conditions are complied with or fulfilled. Tsokwa Oil Marketing Co. v. B. O. N. Limited (2002) 11 NWLR Pt.777 pg.163.

— Adekeye, JSC. Best Ltd. v. Blackwood Hodge (2011) – SC

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MEANING OF THE TERM ‘CONTRACT’

A contract may be defined as a legally binding agreement between two or more persons by which rights are acquired by one party in return for acts or forbearances on the part of the other. In effect a contract is a bilateral affair which needs the ad idem of the parties, therefore where the parties are not ad idem, the court will find as a matter of law that an agreement or contract was not duly made between the parties. Odutola v. Papersack (Nigeria) Limited (2006) 18 NWLR Pt. 1012 pg.470. Olowofoyeku v. A-G. Oyo State (1990) 2 NWLR Pt. 132 pg. 369 Oreint Bank (Nigeria) Plc. v. Bilante International Limited (1997) 8 NWLR Pt. 515 pg. 37 Societe General Bank (Nigeria) v. Safa Steel and Chemical Manufacturing Limited (1998) 5 NWLR Pt. 548 pg. 168.

— Adekeye, JSC. Best Ltd. v. Blackwood Hodge (2011) – SC

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COURT DOES NOT SET CONTRACT FOR PARTIES – IT ENFORCES THE AGREEMENT

No court ever makes a contract for any party or group once the plaintiffs and their followers have agreed to be bound by the constitution of the Movement exhibit 1, they must be prepared to act within its provisions and cannot expect any help from the court to act ultra vires the provisions of what they have agreed to be bound sic. This is precisely the position of the court in this case. The plaintiffs and their followers agreed to give overall control to the executive committee as the government of the Movement as well as power to amend the said constitution … Whilst the court concedes to any body or group be it domestic or otherwise the right to have access to the court for the redress of any wrong no remedy will be available to an applicant where the act complained of is in accordance with the agreement between the body or group.

– Obaseki, JSC. Shodeinde v. Ahmadiyya (1983) – SC.64/1982

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OFFER & A COUNTEROFFER

An offer must be unconditionally and unqualified by accepted. Any addition to or subtraction from the terms of the offer is an alteration to the terms and amounts to a total rejection of the offer by the offeree. The terms embedded in the rejection may form the basis for the formation of a new agreement. This is what amounts to a counter-offer. An offer is impliedly rejected if the offeree instead of accepting the original offer makes a counter-offer which varies the terms proposed by the offeror. Hyde v. Wrench (1840) 3 Kear. 334.

— Adekeye, JSC. Best Ltd. v. Blackwood Hodge (2011) – SC

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