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FRAUD VITIATES ALL TRANSACTIONS – CONTRACT IS VOIDABLE AT THE ELECTION OF THE PARTY DEFRAUDED

Dictum

Fraud vitiates even the most solemn of all transactions. In fact fraud vitiates everything even judgments and orders of the court. However, a contract or other transaction induced or tainted by fraud is not void but only voidable at the election of the party defrauded. See Western Bank of Scotland v. Addie (1867) L.R.Sc. & Div. 145. Until it is avoided the transaction is valid so that third parties without notice of the fraud may in the meantime acquire rights and interests in the matter which they may enforce against the party defrauded. See Oakes v. Torquand (1867) L.R. 2 H.L. 325,373; ReeseRiver Silver Mining Co. v. Smith (1869) L.R.4 H.L. 64; Carter and Kenderdine’s Contractual) 1 Ch. 776 and United Shoe Co. v. Brunei (1909) A.C. 330.

— Agbaje, JSC. Ugo v Obiekwe (1989) – SC.207/1985

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PARTIES BOUND BY CONTRACTUAL TERMS IN ABSENCE OF FRAUD

The well laid down position of the law is that Courts do not rewrite contact for the parties where the terms of the contract are clear. In the absence of fraud, duress and undue influence, misrepresentation, the parties are bound by their contract. It is only parties to a contract that can sue and be sued on it.

– Rhodes-Vivour JSC. Alade v. Alic (2010)

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COMPANY WILL NOT BE USE AS AN INSTRUMENT OF FRAUD

It must be stated unequivocally that this court, as the last court of the land, will not allow a party to use its company as a cover to dupe, cheat and or defraud an innocent citizen who entered into lawful contract with the company, only to be confronted, with the defence of the company’s legal entity as distinct from its directors. Most companies in this country are owned and managed solely by an individual, while registering the members of his family as the share holders. Such companies are nothing more than one-man-business; hence, the tendency is there to enter into contract in such company name and later turn around to claim that he was not a party to the agreement since the company is a legal entity.

– MUNTAKA-COMASSIE JSC. Alade v. Alic (2010)

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FRAUD VITIATES; FRAUD MUST BE PLEADED AND PROVED STRICTLY

In the Duchess of Kingston’s Case (1775-1802) All E. R. Rep. 623 at 629 De Grey C. J., held that: “…Fraud is an extrinsic, collateral act, which vitiates the most solemn proceedings of Courts of Justice. LORD COKE says, it avoids all judicial acts, ecclesiastical or temporal.” Again in Fabunmi vs. Agbe (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt. 2) 299, Obaseki, JSC held at page 319 paragraph “C” that: “…Fraud is a serious crime and in civil matters, the particulars must be pleaded and proved strictly.”

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WHERE FRAUD, COURT WOULD LIFT THE VEIL OF INCORPORATION

FDB FINANCIAL SERVICES LTD. v. ADESOZA (2002) 8 NWLR (Pt. 668) 170 AT 173, the Court considering the power of a Court to lift the veil of incorporation held thus: “The consequences of recognizing the separate personality of a company is to draw a veil of incorporation over the Company. One is therefore generally not entitled to go behind or lift this veil. However, since a statute will not be allowed to be used as an excuse to justify illegality or fraud it is a quest to avoid the normal consequences of the statute which may result in grave injustice that the Court as occasion demands have to look behind or pierce the corporate veil.”

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FROM THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE IT SHOWS THAT ARBITRATION MAY BE MORE OPEN TO FRAUD

582. Regardless of my decision, I hope the facts and circumstances of this case may provoke debate and reflection among the arbitration community, and also among state users of arbitration, and among other courts with responsibility to supervise or oversee arbitration. The facts and circumstances of this case, which are remarkable but very real, provide an opportunity to consider whether the arbitration process, which is of outstanding importance and value in the world, needs further attention where the value involved is so large and where a state is involved. 583. The risk is that arbitration as a process becomes less reliable, less able to find difficult but important new legal ground, and more vulnerable to fraud. The present case shows that having (as here) a tribunal of the greatest experience and expertise is not enough. Without reflection, then a case such as the present could happen again, and not reach the court.

— R. Knowles CBE. FRN v. Process & Industrial Developments Limited [2023] EWHC 2638 (Comm)

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THE STATUTE OF FRAUDS WILL NOT BE USED AS AN ENGINE OF FRAUD FOR WANT OF WRITING

He is bound by his bond, notwithstanding that the transaction is not evidenced in writing. Generally, section 4 of the Statute of Frauds requires that a transaction dealing with interest in land should be by a note or memorandum in writing. On the application of the Statute of Frauds, the Full Court of Divisional Court of Nigeria refused to lay it down as a strict rule of law that land, the property of an illiterate native, cannot be disposed of by him without complying with statute. See Bintu Alake and Ashafa Lawal v. Awawu 11 NLR 39,40 and Ashabi Okoleji v. M.A. Okupe 15 NLR 28. The parties to the instant appeal, as can be garnered from the record of proceedings are illiterates and on those authorities, the fact that the transaction is not in writing is not prejudicial.

— Salami, JCA. Manya v Idris (2000) – CA/K/29/97

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