The Commercial Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from African countries on topics relating to commercial legal practice. The collection aims to provide a snapshot of commercial legal practice in a country, rather than present solely traditionally "reportable" cases. The index currently covers 400 judgments from Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Get started on finding judgments that are relevant to you by browsing the topic list on the left of the screen. Click the arrows next to the topic names to reveal a detailed list of sub-topics. Most judgments are accompanied by a short summary written by subject-matter expert postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town.
The matter involved an appeal over a decision made about a contractual dispute between the appellant and the respondent.
The first issue was whether the trial court had jurisdiction to consider a contractual matter between an individual banker and his bank. The court engaged with the interpretation of the relevant constitutional provision (s 251(1)(d)) as given by the Supreme Court and established that it granted concurrent jurisdiction between federal and state High Courts in customer-bank matters. The court reasoned that the provision is an exception to the exclusive jurisdiction enjoyed by federal courts. It concluded that the trial court had jurisdiction, though concurrent, to decide the matter at issue.
The second issue was whether there had been sufficient proof at the trial court to support judgment in favour of the respondent. Acknowledging that this issue required the court to embark on a re-evaluation of the evidence, the court emphasised that interference could only be done if it is shown that the trial court’s judgment was perversely flawed. After reviewing the trial court processes, the court concluded that there was a failure to properly evaluate the totality of all evidence, particularly determining what was admissible or inadmissible, before making its decisions. Since there was proof of an absence of a nexus link between the conclusions of the court and the proven facts, the appellate court could thus interfere and re-evaluate the evidence. The trial court’s judgment was therefore found to be fraught with error and was set aside.
The respondent/plaintiff had sued the appellant/defendant for a liquidated debt following its default in payment and successfully applied for the matter to be placed on the undefended list. There it was heard exclusively on the papers to the respondent/plaintiff’s success. Two issues emerged on appeal: whether the trial court’s judgment contradicted the evidence, and whether the appellant’s notice of intention to defend disclosed a defence on the merits of the case, thereby justifying the matter’s transfer to the general cause list.
The appellate court held in favour of the respondents on both issues, finding first that the court had been thorough in its analysis of the evidence before it, and had crafted a reasoned order reflecting this.
The judge elucidated the purpose of the undefended list as a vehicle for swift justice where a defendant has no credible case. This was one such instance; the court found that the appellant had failed to raise a triable issue warranting the matter’s transfer to the general cause list. The appellant’s allegations of fraud did not conform to the recognised rules for establishing such a claim and were found lack any substance.
The appellant unsuccessfully invoked s 36(1) of the Constitution, contending that its right to a fair hearing had been breached through its being deprived of a comprehensive trial. The court affirmed the lawful function of the undefended list, emphasising that parties are given equal opportunities to be heard via the papers. Where a defendant was unable to raise a triable issue against the plaintiff’s claim, it could not resort to arguing that audi alterem partem had been flouted.
The appeal was dismissed.
The parties concluded a loan agreement to facilitate the appellant’s purchase of immoveable property. The appellant provided 30% of the fee while the rest was covered by the loan amount. Upon purchase, the property was assigned to the respondent. When the appellant defaulted on payment, the respondent purported to sell the property in execution of the debt.
The appellant contested the legality of this recourse, arguing that the relationship between the parties was such that the respondent held the property in a trust, for her benefit as part-owner, and would do so until which time she had paid back the amount owing. The appellate court concurred with the trial judge that the parties’ transaction clearly amounted to an equitable mortgage – rather than an implied trust – and that the respondent could dispose of the property in execution of the debt without the appellant’s consent.
The trial court’s decision to non-suit the plaintiff/respondent was also upheld by the appellate bench, who considered the well-established criteria for such an award. As the plaintiff had not failed in toto to prove its case, the defendant was not in any event entitled to the court’s judgment and no injustice would be caused thereto by the order, the relevant factors were deemed satisfied.
The appeal was dismissed.
The claimant/appellant purported to buy a property offered to it by the defendant/first respondent and consolidate the transaction with its purchase of another of the latter’s properties. This was proposed via counter-offer. The appellant proceeded to pay a down-payment for both properties after the agreed time-period, the bulk of which was unilaterally appropriated by the respondent towards payment for only one of them in reverting to the terms of the original agreement. Aggrieved, the appellant approached the High Court seeking layered relief to uphold the consolidated sale. The trial court found that, on the facts, the consolidation agreement was valid but conditional on the specified time-frame. It was therefore aborted as time was of the essence and payment had not been made in the required period. Judgment was entered in favour of the first respondent.
Challenging the trial court’s decision, the appellant argued that a binding agreement had been created, and the respondent had waived the issue of timeous payment when it accepted the appellant’s performance beyond the stipulated time-period. The court dismissed this claim, finding in concurrence with the court below that the failure to meet the time requirement – a term that was accepted by the appellant – thwarted the consolidation. No waiver had occurred.
Specific performance was unavailable to the appellant as the respondent had not breached their existing agreement. Its claim attacking the trial court’s jurisdiction to make an order regarding the transfer and registration of the property – directed at the second respondent – also failed.
The appeal was accordingly dismissed.
The respondents/plaintiffs had successfully approached a court seeking a declaration of rights asserting their bona fide title in respect of certain immoveable property. They further sought a permanent injunction against the appellant/defendant, who alleged a stronger claim to the property, barring its interference therewith.
The appellant appealed the factual findings of the trial court, which the Court of Appeal found were substantiated by the evidence on record. Absent any evidence of perversity in its factual conclusions, its findings were deemed reliable on appeal.
The respondents adduced evidence which met the criteria – from the instructive methodology of the Supreme Court – for the proof of declaration of title to land. They showed that the property had been lawfully conveyed to their grandfather and fallen unto them by succession, after which time they consistently exercised possession and ownership rights thereover. The appellant adduced insufficient evidence to establish his contestations of historical ownership to the property having accrued to his family via crown grant, as well as his own roots of title.
The appellant/defendant unsuccessfully tried to raise estoppel on the grounds of res judicata, alleging that the matter had already been heard by the Lands Registry Court. The appellate court made an adverse finding on the basis that the parties’ dispute had been incomprehensively ventilated before that authority and so res judicata could not apply.
The appeal was dismissed.
The subject-matter of this appeal concerned the enforceability of an English court order on the parties’ dispute. The first and second respondents argued in the court below that the appellant and third respondent were in breach of the order of a lower court, and so they sought an order restraining its enforcement. The trial judge admitted a copy of the English court’s ruling but made further other orders affirming the subsistence of the lower court ruling which led the appellant to lodge an appeal on multiple grounds.
Regarding the main appeal, the court endorsed the first and second respondents’ argument that the third respondent ought to be compelled to observe the subsisting order of the lower court. It affirmed the inherent power of the court to act where an existing court judgment is flouted to uphold the integrity of the judiciary. Such an issue may be raised by either party orally, by formal application, or raised by the court itself.
Although the appellant was not part of the suit and lacked the requisite legal standing without formal application, that it was a beneficiary of the English court’s order meant that the trial judge was justified to restrain it from enforcing the order. However, the appellant had been incorrectly found to be jointly liable with the third respondent for flouting the judgment of the court below, so it experienced some success on this count.
On the challenge of the trial court’s jurisdiction to make one of its pronouncements, the appellate court found that the judge had unlawfully addressed the substance of a forthcoming application. This violated the well-established principle that a court must make its findings and orders on the same grounds of argument it has received from the parties. This issue was therefore resolved in the appellant’s favour.
Overall, the appeal was meritorious and allowed in part.
The appellant averred that the trial court, without application by either party, dispensed with the mandatory requirements for pre-trial conference and ordered that the two pending applications be argued immediately.
The issues were whether the provisions of Order 25 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2004 provides for the mandatory holding of pre-trial conference and whether the ruling dispensing the pre-trial conference in the trial court was made in disregard of the civil procedure rules.
The court held that pre-trial conference is used to decipher interlocutory issues and trivialities of facts from the main trial of the case, when and if full trial is necessary for the final determination of the case. Pre-trial conferences may be mandatory however they do not apply where the pleadings have not yet closed or where by the wording of other rules of court it is inapplicable. The court went on to express that in the instant case, the pleadings had not yet closed and so the court below was right in holding that the summary judgment did not envisage any pre-trial conference. This because the summary judgment procedure instead is targeted at speedy disposal of the case where there is no defense or good defense to the claim. The court held that the respondent rushed to apply for pre-trial conference when the issue of whether or not there would be full trial was yet to be determined by the court.
The appeal was dismissed.
The appellant contended that the respondent, contrary to the decision of the lower court, be held responsible for the debts of a company. The appellant contended that the company was a mere façade, as the respondent was both a shareholder and subscriber of the company. The contract of service between the parties was not in writing. The court held that it is only when the claimant has proved the existence of the contract that the burden will shift to the defendant to prove his denial of its existence.
The main issue was whether the defendant was liable to pay the debts of the company.
In this case, the respondent did not go into the contract as an agent for the company. A company has no soul or body through which it can act, it can only do so through human agents; but which acts they cannot be personally held liable for. The court said that the effect of incorporation and registration of a company, firm etc is to confer on it legal entity as a person separate and distinct from its members. It is a legal person with a personality of its own.
The court went on to state that the appellant failed to show that the findings of the lower court were perverse and not based on the evidence adduced. This is why the appeal failed.
The crux of the matter is whether or not the trial court erred in holding the appellant/defendant was given ample opportunities but failed, refused and/or neglected to defend the suit and present its case before the court. The appellant contended that the lower court’s refusal to re-open the case amounted to a violation of its right to fair hearing. The court held that the appellant had ample time to defend its case but failed.
The second issue was whether the exhibits admitted by the lower court were deserving of ascription of any probative value. The court held that documentary evidence can be admitted in the absence of the maker; what matters is admissibility. This means that a document can be admitted without the court attaching probative value to it.
The court reiterated that where the lower court fails to examine documents tendered before it, an appellate court is in good position to evaluate such exhibits. The court thus held that the lower court erred when it held that the respondents were entitled to judgment.
In the result, the appeal succeeded even though the first issue was held in favor of the respondent.
The appellant sought an order to restore its appeal that had been dismissed by the appeal court after failure to transmit the record of appeal. The main issue was whether the appellant had provided good and sufficient reason to have the appeal restored.
The application presented before the court was brought on the invocation of order 8 rule 20 of the court of appeal rules. The rule provides that an appellant whose appeal had been dismissed under the rule may apply by notice of motion that the appeal be restored and any such application may be made to the court, which may, in its discretion for good and sufficient cause order that such terms as they think fit.
The court held that in order for a court to justify the exercise of the court’s discretion in favour of an applicant, there must be some material upon which to base the exercise of that discretion. Any exercise of the court’s discretion where no material for such exercise had been placed before the court would certainly give a party in breach of the rules of court an uninhibited right to unmerited relief.
The court found the applicant’s explanation for failing to transmit the record of the proceedings of the lower court to the appeal court within the time prescribed was unconvincing and did not amount to good and sufficient cause. The appeal was thus dismissed.
The appellant challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the petition of the respondent to wind up the appellant company for being unable to pay its debts.
The court held that jurisdiction is a threshold issue and where there is a condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction, and then unless fulfilled, the court shall be devoid of the requisite jurisdiction to determine the matter. The dispute, if any must be within the parameters of disputing a debt; that is in good faith and on substantial grounds. The court stated that the appellant was supposed to put forward facts which would satisfy the court that there was something which was ought to have been looked into on the same matter.
Disputation of a debt can bar the court from allowing a petition for winding up a company which has failed to pay its debt. A real dispute must touch on the substance of the debt in its material particulars such as showing part of the debt had been settled. The court held that the appellant failed to make any payments to the respondent. Furthermore, the respondent satisfied the requirements of the act and the jurisdiction of the court was properly activated and the issue is resolved against the appellant.
The appeal was dismissed as it lacked substance.
The appellant was charged and found guilty of obtaining money under false pretenses; he then brought an appeal against the ruling of the High Court before the appellate court.
The court was faced with two issues, the first being whether the High Court was justified in convicting the appellant on allegations of misrepresentation not covered in the charge. The second issue was whether the high court was correct to convict the appellant for misrepresentation and seize his property.
The court held that the High Court was justified in convicting the appellant and that the allegations of misrepresentation were covered in the charge. The court further held that the High Court made no error in seizing the appellant’s property following the conviction.
By evaluating witness testimonies and the evidence led in the High Court, the court stated that the appellant had indeed misrepresented himself to the witnesses so they could part with monies and invests with the appellant. The court was of the view that sufficient evidence was led in the High Court which justified the conviction of the appellant. Regarding the seizure of property, the court stated that the High Court exercised its inherent powers to make an order of forfeiture since the appellant bought and used the property to carry out his illegal operations for which he was convicted.
The appeal was unsuccessful and the judgement of the High Court (conviction and sentence) was upheld.
The case concerned an appeal of the High Court’s judgment regarding ownership of a house and the relevance of legislation relating to public officers in so far as the case was concerned.
The court considered whether the case before the High Court was a land matter and whether legislation relating to public officers was applicable to the case.
The court held that the case was indeed a land matter and that legislation relating to public officers that bars claims against public officers was not applicable to the case.
The court examined legislation and previous judgments and concluded that the legislation relating to public officers that barred claims against public officers due to prescription was not applicable to the case in the High Court because it was a land matter. The court stated that issues relating to land recovery, breach of contract and claims for work done were some of the exceptions to the application of the statute that barred claims against public officers. The court stated that since the subject matter of the case before the High Court concerned a house, it meant that the matter related to the recovery or retention of land or property.
Consequently, the appeal succeeded, the ruling of the High Court set aside, and the matter was remitted to the High Court to be heard afresh.
The case concerned an appeal against the ruling of the High Court relating to land ownership.
Based on the evidence adduced in the High Court, the court had to consider whether the appellant and the respondent proved their respective cases and whether the land in question was clearly described during the trial.
The court held that only the appellant was able to prove his case and that the land in question was clearly identified by the appellant.
The court went on to state that the appellant was able to prove title to the land in question through his grandfather and that the respondents did not dispute the claim. Furthermore, the respondents asserted in their pleadings that the land in question was acquired by the state but failed to discharge the burden that rested on them in proving so. The court ruled in favour of the appellant in so far as him being able to clearly identify and describe the land in question.
The appeal succeeded, and the judgment of the High Court was set aside. The court confirmed that the title of the land vested in the appellant and granted a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from trespassing on the land.
The case before the appellate court concerned an appeal against the ruling of the High Court where the appellant’s case was dismissed. In the High Court, the appellant sought to challenge the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear the matter.
The court considered whether the non-inclusion of the word ‘council’ to the names of the respondents was a misnomer and whether the High Court was justified in dismissing the appellant’s preliminary objection.
The court held that the non-inclusion of the word ‘council’ was indeed a misnomer which stood to be amended with the court’s discretion. Once amended, it gave the High Court the right to dismiss the appellant’s preliminary objection.
The court relied on legislation establishing the respondents in order to identify their correct names and the court stated that no other names could have been intended than those put forward by the respondents. The court was of the view that the appellant was being unnecessarily technical which led to an incorrect legal view.
As a result, the appeal was dismissed, and the ruling of the High Court was affirmed. Costs were ordered in favour of the respondents.
The appellant brought an appeal against the judgement of the High Court, where the lower court dismissed the appellant’s suit on grounds that the claim had prescribed.
The court considered whether the appellant’s right to a fair hearing could be determined despite having failed to initiate its case prior to it prescribing and whether the High Court correctly dismissed the appellant’s case due to prescription.
The court held that the appellant’s right to a fair hearing could not be determined under the circumstances. The court also held that the High Court incorrectly dismissed the appellant’s case without considering important aspects.
Regarding the right to a fair hearing; the court was of the view that since the appellant initiated their case by writ of summons for a declaration against the respondent, it was not an application for the enforcement of a fundamental right and it stood to be affected by the operation of a statute including any limitations the statute could have had. Furthermore, the court issued that the High Court ought to have made an inquiry as to the definition of a ‘public officer’ as used in the statute and if there were any exceptions to the statute that prescribes claims against public officers after three months. The omission by the High Court was held to be an error.
The appeal was successful, and the judgment of the High Court was set aside. Court ordered the case to be heardafresh by the High Court. No costs were ordered.
The court determined the principles of granting a stay of execution and injunction pending appeal in a case that involves a state government.
The first respondent raised a preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court, since there was a stay of execution pending in the court below on the same issue and the first appellant had not appealed on the attachment of the appellant’s monies in banks (garnishee order). In determining its jurisdiction, the court applied Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2011 (Rules of the Court) and held that it had discretionary powers to make injunctions pending appeal even when no application lied in the court below depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Additionally, the court held that there was an appeal predicated on the garnishee order thus the issues were properly before it.
The court set out the principles of granting a stay of execution and injunction pending appeal: to preserve the subject matter of the appeal from irreparable damage pending appeal. It also held that the principles are applied when a party has an arguable appeal and to enhance public interest.
The court observed that the appellant had admitted its indebtedness to part of the judgment debt and held it just and fair to refuse the application with respect to that amount. The court held that the trial court erred in granting garnishee orders on balance of the judgment debt. Accordingly, the application succeeded in part.
Administrative law – judicial review- determining whether and administrative body acted ultra vires
This was an appeal on a decision of the High Court determining the title of a land.
The court determined whether the judgment by the trial court was a nullity on grounds of being delivered after three months in contravention of s 294(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The court applied the rule that a judgment in such a case may only be nullified if the appellant can prove that the delay in the delivery caused a miscarriage of justice. The court observed that the trial court did not properly evaluate evidence of the witness and made a declaratory order where the identity of the land was unknown. Secondly, the court determined whether the trial court erred in relying on pleadings that were amended and the court found that the trial court caused a miscarriage of justice for doing so. Finally, the court determined whether the trial court erred by declaring the title of the disputed land in favour of the respondents and resolved the issue in favour of the appellant.
Accordingly, the appeal succeeded, the judgment of the High Court was set aside and an order as to costs was made against the respondents.
Civil procedure rules – appeal - challenge of record of proceedings
This is an appeal of the decision of the trial court that found the assignment of the respondent’s debt to the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as being illegal, unlawful and negligent in law.
The court determined the first issue: whether the trial court erred in its interpretation of the AMCON Act in relation to assignment of the debt and finding that the assignment was illegal, unlawful and negligent in law. The court held that the provisions relied on in the AMCON Act were clear and its only duty was interpreting the provisions according to their literal meaning not varying them. It was held that the trial court erred in its determination thereof. With respect to the other issues, the court held that the resolution of the first issue disposed the appeal making the other issues irrelevant. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the judgment of the trial court was set aside with costs in favour of the appellant.
This case concerns a vast tract of land which belongs to the Oloto Royal Family of Lagos, of whom the appellant is traditional monarch and head of family. The appellant sought to set aside a conveyance on the grounds that the deeds of conveyance were fraudulently executed. The court considered whether reliance on the presumptions raised in ss 123 and 150(1) Evidence Act (the act) was justifiable where the purported vendors did not sign the deeds. The court also considered whether the lower court was correct to have sustained the plea of laches and acquiescence against the appellant.
The court held the claimant bears the burden of proof for ownership of land. Further, in terms of s 150(1) of the act, when any judicial or official act is shown to have been done in a manner substantially regular, it is presumed that there was compliance with the formal requisites. The court held that in considering the doctrine of laches the plaintiffs must also consider acquiescence on the plaintiffs' part and any change of the position that has occurred on the defendant's part.
The court found that the respondents failed to tender the original copy of the conveyance containing the actual signatures of the vendors; therefore, reliance on s 123 and s 150(1) of the act is not justifiable. The court also found that the court of equity would come to the aid of the respondent and hold it unconscionable to uproot the respondent from the land.
Accordingly, the appeal succeeded in part, the court set aside the decision by the lower court that the conveyance documents are valid as per the Evidence Act.
The appellant sought to enforce a retainer agreement which was dismissed in the trial court because it lacked jurisdiction and the matter was pending before the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal considered whether the case was an abuse of court process.
The court held that an appeal is a continuation of a matter and there must be a complete cause of action. Further, the concept of abuse of court process is fluid and imprecise. Improper use of the judicial process by a party in litigation to interferewith due process of administration of justice.
The court found the action of the appellant, in this case, was not properly instituted and premature therefore an abuse of court process. Further, if the court were to determine the claims of the appellant while the eventual decision of the Supreme Court of appeal is pending, such a decision would have overreached the eventual outcome of the SupremeCourt.
Accordingly, the court dismissed the action.
The appellant challenged the decision of lower court where the respondent as judgement creditor was granted an order for revalidation of the judgement and an order for compliance judgment. On the appeal, the issue was whether the application was time-barred and grounds to grant the appeal.
The court held that money judgments automatically expire after ten years, therefore, the judgment creditor must file revalidation before the expiration of the ten years. Also held that judgements of courts remain valid until set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The court found that the application is not statute barred and that the application had merit. The court ordered that the judgment on 12 March 2001 remained valid and that the respondents to comply with the orders in the judgments.
On the cross-appeal, the issue was whether the judgment of 12 March 2001 is barred by Limitation Law of Bauchi State ss 16(1) and 16(2).
The court held that a judgment of a competent court is valid from the date of delivery until set aside by the court either on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction or court of appeal. Moreso, rules of practice and procedure do not confer jurisdiction to extend the time for enforcement beyond ten years as stipulated in ss 16(1) and (2).
The court found that the lower court did not have statutory authority to extend the time for enforcement after the expiry of ten years.
The court dismissed the appeal.
The appellant, a federal government agency, claimed that the first respondent, in the lower court, sought relief while the matter was still pending in the high court and the jurisdiction was exclusive to the federal high court according to the constitution. The court considered whether the lower court had the jurisdiction for the withdrawal of a building plan that was an executive decision by the appellant.
The court held that s 230(1) of Decree 107 of 1993 (‘the decree’, now s 251 of the constitution) automatically ousted the jurisdiction of the Lagos State High Court. This provision gave the federal high court exclusive jurisdiction in administrative or executive decision by the federal government or its agencies. The court also held that any decision or proceedings emanating from such a court are a nullity.
The court found that the lower court did not have jurisdiction according to s 230(1) of the decree.
Accordingly, the court upheld the appeal.
The appellant claimed that a letter in dispute was not a contract but a proposal which outlined the services the respondent intended to render and the billing details. The court considered whether the statement of claim by the respondent disclosed a reasonable cause of action based on a binding contract. The other issue was whether the costs granted in the lower court were justifiable.
The court held that there must be a cause of action cognizable in law. In that light, an action founded on a contract must disclose the cause of action and court must restrict itself to the averments in the statement of claim. The court also held that costs follow the events and are compensatory in the court's discretion.
The court did not determine the existence of the contract because a valid and enforceable contract is a substantive issue that should be determined at trial. The court also found that since the requisite factual elements were present in the statement of claim, a cause of action existed despite weaknesses and unlikelihood of success of the case. The court also found that the trial court awarded the costs reasonably and by the law.
Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal.
The court considered whether the court below was correct in finding that the re-allocation of land was valid in law. Furthermore, it considered whether the below court was correct in finding that ownership could not be established, irrespective of a subsisting agreement and whether the court was correct in admitting inadmissible evidence.
The appellants alleged that they were staff of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (‘NITEL’) purchased flats from NITEL and occupied them with supporting letters to confirm their purchase. They subsequently discovered that a portion of their land had been re-allocated and used as a car park without their consent.
The court found that a party for a declaration of title of land must show the court clearly the area of land to which the claim relates. The court found that the appellants did not prove their title by failing to prove acts of ownership or long possession.
On the issue of ownership, the court considered the five requirements for a contract to be valid, namely, 1) offer, 2) acceptance, 3) consideration, 4) intention to create a legal relationship and 5) capacity to contract. These must co-exist for a contract to be formed in law. It was found that a valid sale agreement had been established, therefore denoting ownership.
The court found that the admission of evidence which was made during the pendency of the suit was inadmissible and should not have been relied upon by the court below.
The court considered whether the second respondent was a public officer as defined under s 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act, 2004 (the act) and whether the revocation of the certificate of occupancy can be said to be for an overriding public interest as defined in s 28 of the Land Use Act.
This case concerned an appeal of the judgment of the court below, declining jurisdiction, whereby the appellant claimed ownership of the land.
It was argued that a minister does not fall within the confines of the definition of ‘public officer’ as contended in the act.
The court found that the act applies not only to public officers but also to public officials who hold their respective offices for, or in trust of the public, thus, the minister is a public officer as contemplated in the act. Therefore, a public officer is a member of the public service.
On the second point, the court held that s 28 of the Land Use Act gives the minister the power to revoke a right of occupancy for overriding public interest. Overriding public interest means the requirement of the land by the government of the state or by local government in the state, for public purpose within the state.
The court found that the revocation of the right of occupancy was valid and for overriding public interest.
The court considered whether the evidence led in the court below was properly evaluated. This case concerned whether the court below erred in assessing the weight of evidence accordingly and considered the personal opinion of the judicial officer when adjudicating the matter.
The court found that the evaluation of evidence and the ascription of probative value to such evidence are the primary functions of a trial court, who has the opportunity of seeing, hearing and assessing the witnesses and their respective evidence. Once determining that, the court will evaluate the evidence and justifiably assess the facts.
The court found that the evidence that was led was properly before the court below and that their findings were based purely on the evidence. Thus, the issue of substitution of opinion into evidence was clarified where the appeal court found that the court below applied the law to the proved facts and that cannot be considered to amount to a substitution of opinion.
The court considered whether the court below properly evaluated the evidence, and were they correct in expunging the evidence. Furthermore, it looked at whether the doctrine of waiver had been correctly applied.
This case looked at whether the revocation of the property as well as the sale of the property was null and void.
The court considered s 83(1)(b), 2(a) and (5) of the Evidence Act and found that a wrongly admitted piece of evidence is not a sacrosanct, it is still subject to scrutiny by the appellate court.
The court found that inadmissible evidence ought not to be admitted, even by mistake, and if it is, the appeal court ought to consider the case on the legally admissible evidence and preclude that which is inadmissible.
It is trite that the evaluation of evidence is essentially the function of the trial judge, where the trial judge has unquestionably evaluated the evidence before him and ascribed probative value to it, it is not the business of the appeal court to disturb such findings of fact, unless the findings are perverse.
In considering the doctrine of waiver, it was found that waiver means that the person in whose favour a benefit or right exists, is aware of those rights or benefits, but chooses to freely not take advantage of those rights or benefits. Thus, the doctrine of waiver could not be applied.