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TRESPASS: SPECIAL VS GENERAL DAMAGES

Dictum

In an action for damages for special damages for trespass, special dam-ages must be pleaded and strictly proved, the value pleaded being normally a reflection of the prevailing market prices. The vital difference between a claim for compensation under the Land Use Act and compensation in trespass Is that general damages is only claimable in trespass.

— Obaseki, JSC. Foreign Finance Corp. v Lagos State Devt. & Pty. Corp. & Ors. (1991) – SC. 9/1988

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OBJECT OF AWARD OF DAMAGES IN HUMAN RIGHTS CASES

Para. 43: “In the case of Chief Ebrimah Manneh v. Republic of The Gambia, supra, decided on 5th June 2008, this court set out some principles that will guide it in the award of damages. Though by no means exhaustive, the principles set out in that decision are relevant to this case. Principally the object of an award in human rights violation is to vindicate the injured feelings of the victim and to restore his rights and human dignity. Monetary compensation may also be awarded in appropriate cases but the objective of such an award must not be punitive. The following cases decided by the European Court of Human Rights are of relevance to this discussion on damages: Ahmed Selmouni v. State of France (2005) CHR 237; and Miroslav Cenbauer v. Republic of Croatia (2005) CBR 424 , where the court awarded damages in circumstances similar to the present case, wherein the plaintiff was tortured.”

— Saidykhan v GAMBIA (2010) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/08/10

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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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AWARD OF DAMAGES IS DUTY OF TRIAL COURT – WHERE SUCH WILL BE INTERFERED IN

I have to commence my reasoning in this issue by laying emphasis on the notorious fact that the award of damages is essentially the duty of a trial court and will not be interfered with except unless certain circumstances exist:- a. Where the trial court acted under a misapprehension of facts or law b. where it failed to take into account relevant matter c. Where the amount awarded is too low or too high d. where failure to interfere would amount to injustice.

– Adekeye JSC. Harka v. Keazor (2011) – SC.262/2005

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

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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WHAT IS DAMAGES

Damages have been defined as: “that pecuniary compensation which law awards to a person for the injury he has sustained by reason of the act or default of another whether that act or default is a breach of contract or tort”, see Iyere v. B.F.F. M Ltd (2008) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1119) 300 at 345, per Muhammad, JSC; Umudje v. SPDCN (1975) 841 SC 155 at 162; Neka B.B.B. Mfg. Co. Ltd. v. A.C.B. Ltd (2004) 2 NWLR (Pt.. 858) 521.

— O.F. Ogbuinya JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc v. Longterm Global Cap. Ltd. & Ors. (September 20 2021, ca/l/1093/2017)

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GENERAL VS SPECIAL DAMAGES

It is the law that general damages such as the law will presume to be the natural or probable consequence of the defendant’s act need not be specifically pleaded. It arises by inference of law and need not therefore be proved by evidence and may be averred generally. On the, other hand, special damage is such loss as the law will not presume to be the consequence of the defendant’s act but which depends in part, on the special circumstances of the case. Special damages must be specifically pleaded and strictly proved.

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

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