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NATURE OF A BREACH OF CONTRACT

Dictum

It is clear to me that a contract between parties may be discharged by breach of a fundamental term by any of the parties. There is no gain-saying the point that a breach of contract is committed when a party to the contract without lawful excuse fails, neglects or refuses to perform an obligation he undertook in the contract or incapacitates himself from performing same or in a way back down from carrying out a material term. See: Adeoti & Anr. v. Ayofinde & Anr. (2001) 6 NWLR (Pt.709) 336 … Where a party to a contract is in breach of a material term of same, the breach gives the aggrieved party a lee-way or an excuse for non-performance of its own side of the bargain. Such a party is at liberty to treat the contract as extinguished or at an end. See: Yadis (Nig.) Ltd. v. G.N.I.C. Ltd. (2007) 14 NWLR (Pt.1055) 584 at 609.

— Fabiyi, 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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WHAT IS A FUNDAMENTAL TERM OF A CONTRACT

Niger Insurance Company Ltd v Abed Brothers Ltd & Anor (1976) LPELR-1995 (SC), thus:- “A fundamental term of a contract is a stipulation which the parties have agreed either expressly or by necessary implication or which the general law regards as a condition which goes to the root of the contract so that any breach of that term may at once and without further reference to the fact and circumstances be regarded by the innocent party as a fundamental breach and thus is conferred on him the alternative remedies at his option”.

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TO DETERMINE RIGHTS IN A CONTRACT, COURT MUST RESPECT CONTRACT MADE BY PARTIES

The position of the law is that in determining the rights and obligations of parties to a contract, the court must respect the sanctity of the contract made by them. They are bound by the terms thereof and the court will not allow any extraneous term to be read into it. See Adams O. Idufueko v Pfizer Products Limited & Anor. (2014) LPELR-22999 (SC).

— Adewemimo J. Afariogun v FUTA (2020) – NICN/AK/41/2017

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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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ONLY WHERE THERE IS A CONSENSUS AD IDEM THERE IS A CONTRACT

It is trite that a valid contract can exist only when there is a “consensus ad idem” i.e., when there is a meeting of mind of the parties showing that the parties are bound by a specific term. This meeting of mind is, expressed in the form of “an offer” and “an acceptance” of that offer. It is only where they exist that there is a valid contract.

– Amaizu, J.C.A. Adeniran v. Olagunju (2001)

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