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PERSON CLAIMING DAMAGES SHOULD PROVE HE IS ENTITLED TO DAMAGES UNDER THAT HEAD

Dictum

It is trite and well settled as rightly argued by the said counsel that:- the person claiming should establish his entitlement to that type of damages by credible evidence of such a character as would suggest that he indeed is entitled to an award under that head… See the cases of Oladehin v. Continental ile Mills Ltd (1978) NSCC, page 88 and also Imana v. Robinson (1979) NSCC page 1.

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

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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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RATIONALE FOR DAMAGES AWARD

The primary object of an award of damages is to compensate the plaintiff for the harm done to him or a possible secondary object is to punish the defendant for his conduct in inflicting that harm. The rationale behind the compensatory theory for the award of damages is found in the maxim restitutio in integrum. In other words, to restore the injured party to the position he or she was in prior to the injury.

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

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TORT OF NEGLIGENCE AND THE ISSUE OF DAMAGES

The tort of negligence is a civil wrong consisting of breach of a legal duty to care which results in damage. Thus, three things must be proved before the liability to pay damages for tort of negligence and these are:- (a) That the defendant owned the plaintiff a duty to exercise due care. (b) That the defendant failed to exercise due care, and (c) That the defendant’s failure was the cause of the injury in the proper sense of that term.

– Shuaibu JCA. Diamond Bank v. Mocok (2019)

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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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SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE DISTINGUISHED FROM DAMAGES

To sue for specific performance is to assume that a contract is still subsisting and therefore to insist that it should be performed. That will mean that the plaintiff will not want it repudiated unless for any other reason the court was unable to aid him to enforce specific performance of it. He may then fall back for remedy at common law for damages. Specific performance is a discretionary remedy. This does not mean that it will be granted or withheld arbitrarily; the discretion is a judicial discretion and is exercised on well settled principles. It means that in an action for the specific performance of a contract of the class usually enforced, the court may take into account circumstances which could not be taken into account in an action for damages for breach of contract, such as the conduct of the plaintiff, or the hardship which an order for specific performance will inflict on the defendant.

– Ba’Aba JCA. Enejo v. Nasir (2006)

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JUDGES SHOULD SET OUT HOW THEY ARRIVE AT QUANTUM OF DAMAGES

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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