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JUDGES SHOULD SET OUT HOW THEY ARRIVE AT QUANTUM OF DAMAGES

Dictum

The quantum of damages does not now arise for consideration. We would only point out that the Judge did not record a finding as to the extent of the annual financial loss suffered by those whom he held to have been dependants of the deceased woman, or say how he arrived at the total sum awarded. It Is easier for an appeal court to decide whether the damages awarded can be upheld H it knows how they were assessed, and we hope that in cases of this kind judges will set out the reasoning by which they arrive at their final estimates.

— Brett JSC. Benson v. Ashiru (1967) – SC. 405/1965

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DAMAGES FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT IS BASED ON RESTITUTIO IN INTEGRUM

In awarding damages in an action founded on breach of contract, the rule to be applied is restitutio in integrum that is, in so far as the damages are not too remote, the plaintiff shall be restored as far as money can do it, to the position in which he would have been if the breach had not occurred.

– ADEKEYE, J.S.C. Cameroon v. Otutuizu (2011) – SC.217/2004

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WHEN APPELLATE COURT WILL INTERFERE IN DAMAGES AWARDED

An award of damages is within the discretionary powers of the court. An appellate court would not usually interfere with a previous award unless satisfied (a) that the trial court acted under a mistake of law; or (b) where the trial court acted in disregard of some principle of law; or (c) where it acted under a misapprehension of facts; or (d) where it has taken into account irrelevant matters or failed to take into account relevant matters; or (e) where injustice would result if the appellate court does not interfere; or (f) where the amount awarded is either ridiculously low or ridiculously high that it must have been a wholly erroneous estimate of the damage.

– Kekere-Ekun JSC. British v. Atoyebi (2014) – SC.332/2010

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DAMAGES ARE ALWAYS IN ISSUE

Damages are always in issue and so failure to deny them is not fatal: Re The Nigerian Produce Marketing Board v. Adewunmi (1972) 11 S.C. 111.

— Edozie, JCA. British American v. Ekeoma & Anor. (1994) – CA/E/60/88

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COURT OF APPEAL CAN ASSESS DAMAGES

As such is the position, there is now no need for this court or the Court of Appeal to look at an issue of damages as if it were a sacred cow reserved for the court of trial. The correct approach ought to be that unless an issue of credibility of witnesses as to damages arises in the proceedings, the appellate court ought, on entering or affirming a judgment in favour of the plaintiff, to assess and award damages to which he is entitled.

– Pats-Acholonu, JSC. C & C Constr. v. Okhai (2003) – SC.8/1999

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SPECIAL DAMAGES VS GENERAL DAMAGES

It is no longer a matter for contention that the principle in regard to the assessment and award of special damages is different from that of general damages: see Ijebu-Ode Local Govemment v.Adedeji Balogun & Co (1991) 1NWLR(Pt.166) 136 at p. 158; Eseigbe v.Agholor (1993) 9 NWLR (Pt.316) 128 at p. 145. In the former, damages are specially pleaded, strictly proved and accordingly awarded; in the latter, they are averred, if necessary under specific heads of claim, presumed in law to be the direct and natural consequence of the act complained of and awarded at large as a jury question.

— Uwaifo, JSC. Rockonoh v. NTP (2001) – SC.71/1995

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ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES IN BREACH OF CONTRACT

[A]s far back as 1854 in the case of Hadley v. Baxendale (1854) 9 Ex (Ch. 341, where at p. 354 of the Report, Alderson, B. expressed the law as follows: “Now we think the proper rule in such a case as the present is this: Where two parties have made a contract which one of them has broken, the damages which the other party ought to receive in respect of such a breach of contract should be such as may fairly and reasonably be considered either arising naturally, according to the usual course of things, from such breach of contract itself, or such as may reasonably be supposed to have been in the contemplation of both parties, at the time they made the contract, as the probable result of the breach of it.”

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