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NO QUANTITY OF EVIDENCE TO WARRANT SPECIAL DAMAGES

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Judicial decisions have shown that there is no particular type or quantity of evidence to warrant special damages. See the case of SPDC Ltd v. Tiebo VII & Ors (2005) 9 NWLR (Pt. 931) 439 wherein this Court said:- “…in other words, it is a general guide and arises from the fact that it is impossible to prescribe the quantity and nature of evidence required in a given case to justify entitlement to special damages. In some cases, it may be necessary to show documentary proof of the loss sustained, while in other, it may be unnecessary. The important thing is that the evidence proffered must be qualitative and credible and such as lends itself to quantification. Each case depends on its own facts and circumstances.” Pages 461462 paragraphs F – B of the report.

— C.B. Ogunbiyi, JSC. Ibrahim v. Obaje (2017) – SC.60/2006

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SPECIAL DAMAGES DOES NOT SUCCEED ON ADMISSION BY OTHER PARTY – SPECIAL DAMAGES MUST BE STRICTLY PROVED

The paramount question that arises is whether a claim for special damages such as the Respondent’s claim in the instant appeal, will succeed on the defendant’s part admission of the claim. This was the question answered by the Supreme Court in the case of NNPC V CLIFCO NIG. LTD (2011) 4 MJSC 142 at 174 as follows: “A claim for special damages will not succeed simply because there is admission of claim, special damages are never inferred from the nature of the act complained of. They do not follow in the ordinary course as is the case with general damages. They are exceptional and so must be claimed specifically and proved strictly. See Incar v. Benson (1975) 3 SC 117; Odulaja V. Haddad (1973) 11 SC 357.”

— A.A. Wambai, JCA. Aliyu v. Bulaki (2019) – CA/S/36/2018

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SPECIAL DAMAGES SUCCEEDS ONLY ON ACTUAL LOSS

It is indeed trite that a claim for special damages must not only be specifically pleaded item by item with corresponding monetary value of the claimed item, the items as particularized must further be proved by credible evidence for the Court to grant the claim. Where special damages have not been specifically pleaded and proved, same shall not be granted. It follows that a claim for special damages succeeds only in respect of actual and not estimated or anticipated loss or profit. See Dumez V. Ogboli (1972) 2 SC 45, Okunzua V. Amosu (1992) 6 NWLR (Pt. 248) 416 at 432 and Anyanwu V. Uzowuaka (2009) 13 NWLR (Pt 1159) 445.

— M.D. Muhammad, JSC. Union Bank v Nwankwo (2019) – SC.287/2006

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SPECIAL DAMAGES WILL BE UPHELD UPON EVIDENCE ADDUCED AND NOT CHALLENGED

On special damages, it has been held that where the plaintiff plead the special damages and gives necessary particulars and adduce some evidence of it without the defendant challenging or contradicting the evidence, he has discharged the onus of proof placed on him and unless the evidence adduced is of such a quality that no reasonable tribunal can accept, it ought to be accepted. The reason is that where evidence called by the plaintiff in a civil case is neither challenged nor contradicted, his onus of proof is discharged on a minimal of proof.

– ARIWOOLA J.S.C. Union Bank v. Chimaeze (2014)

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SPECIAL DAMAGES MUST BE PROVED TO THE LAST KOBO

The law is settled that where a party claims special damages, the burden is on him to prove the special damages to the last kobo. He has to do this by leading credible evidence most of the time by documents which show the actual loss he has suffered. See Arisons Trading & Engineering Co. Ltd (2009) LPELR 554 (SC). Unchallenged ipse dixit evidence is not an automatic proof of special damages.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Union Bank v Nwankwo (2019) – SC.287/2006

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SPECIAL DAMAGES CANNOT BE AWARDED ON ANTICIPATED LOSS

In Young vs Chevron (Nig) Ltd 2013 LPELR 22126, the plaintiff set out the particulars of the crops that were destroyed in his farm and the expected earnings from those crops which he pleaded and gave evidence that the employees, agents, contractors and servants of the defendant had destroyed by setting fire to his farm. The learned trial Judge found that the plaintiff had not proved the items of special damages, as the pleadings and depositions merely contain speculations as to the number of plants and the expected income. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held: – “A Court is not expected to believe and act on evidence that is manifestly incredible or unreliable, merely because the plaintiff said so; the evidence itself must be credible evidence, before it can be acted on by a Court of law. What if the Appellant had claimed that the farm produce he lost was worth a Billion Naira, with nothing whatsoever to substantiate his claim, will a reasonable man expect the lower Court to hand it to him just like that? No, he would have to show some proof that he is entitled to such an amount, and that is what was required of him some evidence to back up his claims.”

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SPECIAL DAMAGES REQUIRES PROOF

In Neka B.B.B. Manufacturing Co. Ltd v. ACB Ltd (2004) 2 NWLR (Pt 858) 521 at 540 this Court held on the point thus:- “It is trite law that where the claimant specifically alleges that he suffered special damages he must per force prove it. The method of such proof is to lay before the court concrete evidence demonstrating in no uncertain terms easily cognisable the loss or damages he has suffered so that the opposing party and the Court as umpire would readily see and appreciate the nature of the special damages suffered and being claimed. A damage is special in the sense that it is easily discernible and quantified. It should not rest on a puerile conception or notion which would give rise to speculation, approximation or estimate or such fractions.”

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