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WHEN AGREEMENT IS MADE

Dictum

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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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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COURT OF LAW WILL NOT ENFORCE AN ILLEGAL CONTRACT OR ALLOW ITSELF TO BE USED AS AN INSTRUMENT OF FRAUD

As at 1981 when he commenced negotiation to purchase the land, he held no title, customary or statutory which he could validly pass to the respondent. Any agreement reached between the appellant and the respondent which enabled the latter to hold the legal estate in the land for the benefit of the appellant would be unenforceable since the appellant could not pass any title to the respondent. A Court should not enforce an illegal contract or allow itself to be made the instrument of enforcing obligations alleged to arise out of a contract or transaction which is illegal provided the illegality is brought to the notice of the Court and the person invoking the aid of the Court is himself implicated in the illegality. The illegality disclosed here is the attempt by the appellant to circumvent the provisions of the Land Use Act and this is against public policy and a contract may be against public policy either from the nature of the acts to be performed or from the nature of the consideration. Where a transaction is on the face of it, or from the facts adduced in evidence or the surrounding circumstances, apparently illegal, the Court must act to enforce and protect the law of the land. See: Sodipo v. Lemminkainen OY (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt. 8) 547.

— K.B. Aka’ahs, JSC. Huebner v Aeronautical Ind. Eng. (2017) – SC.198/2006

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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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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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COURT CANNOT IMPOSE CONTRACT ON A PARTIES

The relationship between the parties in this case is well-scripted, known and appreciated by them. The Court cannot write or rewrite any agreement for the parties. The parties to any transaction usually have their positions which they bring to their table of negotiation. When they are done with their negotiations, they now have their terms well-crafted to govern the transaction they enter into. The parties and no other are responsible for their terms of engagement. No Court has the power to script or foist on the parties terms which are strange to their agreement. Parties are bound by the terms of their contract.

— S.J. Adah, JCA. Luck Guard v. Adariku (2022) – CA/A/1061/2020

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CONTRACT CREATES RECIPROCAL OBLIGATIONS

A contract is an agreement between two or more parties which creates reciprocal obligations to do or not to do a particular thing. Thus, for a valid contract to be formed, there must be mutuality of purpose and intention. In other words, the two or more minds must meet at the same point, event, or incident. They must not meet at different points, events or incidents. They must be saying the same thing at the same time. See ORIENT BANK (NIG) PLC V BILANTE INTERNATIONAL LTD (1997) 8 NWLR (pt. 515) 37.

— M.L. Shuaibu, JCA. Ekpo v GTB (2018) – CA/C/324/2013

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