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PARTY LIABLE OF A FUNDAMENTAL TERM WILL NOT BE GRANTED RELIEF IN EXCLUSION CLAUSES

Dictum

It is settled from a number of decisions that a party in breach of a fundamental term of his contract with a third party will not be allowed to benefit from or resort to exclusion clauses: PINNOCK BROTHERS v. LEWIS & PEAT LTD (1956) 2 ALL E.R. 866; ADEL BOSHALLI v. ALLIED COMMERCIAL EXPORTERS LTD (1961) ALL NLR 917 at 922; OWNERS OF NV GONGOLA HOPE v. S.C. (NIG). LTD. The rationale for the principle is that a party who is guilty of breach of a fundamental term of contract could/should not benefit from his own wrong doing by resorting to exclusionary clauses in order to limit his liability. This is moreso, when a contract of carriage by air is brazenly breached and no explanation is offered, as in the instant case. In which case there is a total failure of consideration and the central purpose or essence of the contract has wholly disappeared.

– Ejembi Eko, J.S.C. Mekwunye v. Emirates (2018) – SC.488/2014

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SETTING ASIDE A VOIDABLE CONTRACT IS NOT AUTOMATIC

As I observed a moment ago, the setting aside of a voidable transaction cannot be automatic. If it were, there will then be no difference between a void transaction (whose setting aside is automatic) and a merely voidable transaction (whose setting aside depends on all the equities and surrounding circumstances).

– Oputa, JSC. Adejumo v. Ayantegbe (1989)

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COURT SHOULD TREAT AS SACROSANCT TERMS OF AGREEMENT BY PARTIES

It must be reiterated here that the court must treat as sacrosanct the terms of an agreement freely entered into by the parties. This is because parties to a contract enjoy their freedom to contact on their own terms so long as same is lawful. The terms of a contract between parties are clothed with some degree of sanctity and if any question should arise with regard to the contract, the terms in any document which constitute the contract are invariably the guide to its interpretation when parties enter into a contract, they are bound by the terms of the contract as set out by them. It is not the business of the court to rewrite a contract for the parties. See Afrotech Services Nig Ltd. v. M.A. & Sons Ltd. (2002) 15 NWLR (pt. 692) 730 at 788.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. BFI v. Bureau PE (2012) – SC.12/2008

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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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WRONGFULLY TERMINATED CONTRACT

Where an employee’s appointment is wrongfully terminated, his remedy lies in an action for damages, because the court cannot force an employer to keep an employee in his services if the employee’s services are no longer required. The normal measure of damages the employee would be entitled to, is what he would have earned over the period of notice required to lawfully terminate his employment. This is consistent with the contract between the parties which has stipulated the measure of damages. See: Onalaja v. African Petroleum Ltd. (1991) 7 NWLR (Pt. 206) 691 ; Taiwo v. Kingsway Stores Ltd. (1950) 19 NLR 122 and Union Bank of Nigeria Ltd. v. Ogboh (1995) 2 NWLR (Pt. 380) 647.

– Muhammad JCA. Osumah v. EBS (2004)

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COURT DOES NOT CONDUCT BARGAIN FOR PARTIES

The appellant having failed to name a price for his ‘injury’ as a solatium, he cannot expect from the court, unsolicited, any succour as the business of this court or of any court for that matter does not include conducting bargain on behalf of any party.

– Olagunju JCA. Ofodile v. COP (2000)

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PARTIES ARE BOUND BY AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO

Parties are bound by the terms of the agreement they have voluntarily entered into. The only function of the court is to interprete the agreement in enforceable terms without more.
[Kurubo v. Zach-Motison (Nig.) Ltd (1992) 5 NWLR (Pt. 239) 102; National Salt Co. (Nig.) Ltd v. Innis -Palnier (1992) 1 NWLR (Pt. 218) 422; Union Batik of Nigeria Ltd. v. Ozigi (1994) 3 NWLR (Pt. 333) 385; Shettiniari v. Nwokoye (1991) 9 NWLR (Pt. 213) 60]. – L.A. Ayanlere v. Federal Mortgage Bank of Nig. Ltd. (1998) – CA/K/186/96

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