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  • 2002-11-18
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Jonason Triangles Ltd v. C. M. & P. Ltd

JONASON TRIANGLES LTD.

JONATHAN A. ANAGOR

V

CHARLES MOH & PARTNERS LTD.

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

SALIHU MODIBBO ALFA BELGORE ( Presided )

IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI, JSC

SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC

ALOYSIUS IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU, JSC

AKINTOLA OLUFEMI EJIWUNMI, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SC.156/1999

FRIDAY, 4TH OCTOBER, 2002

APPEAL - Finding of fact - Concurrent findings of fact of lower courts Attitude of Supreme Court thereto

COURT - Supreme Court - Attitude of to concurrent findings of lower courts COURT - Trial Judges - Discretion of - How treated by appeal court

COURT - Trial Judges - Duty thereon to facilitate hearing of actions pending before same

Issues:

1.            Whether the appellants’ right to a fair hearing of the substantive suit at the trial had been breached or substantially eroded and whether the concurrent decision to the contrary has occasioned serious miscarriage of justice in the circumstances.

2.            Whether the purported hearing and determination of the substantive suit was competent and whether the concurrent decision affirming same has occasioned serious miscarraige of justice.

Facts:

The respondent to this appeal is an incorporated company with its head office at No. 9 Bedwell Street, Calabar. The 1st appellant is also an incorporated company with its head office at No. 1 Transamadi Layout, Port Harcourt. The 2nd appellant is its Managing Director.

From the statement of claim filed by the respondent and evidence given thereon, it would appear that on or about the 26th of October 1994, the parties agreed that the appellants would convey teak wood on behalf of the respondent from Eboko for delivery to Calabar Wharf. The agreement to this effect was entered into in Calabar. It was also a term of the agreement that the teak wood would be delivered in ten trips and at a cost of N275,000.00; the respondent claimed that he paid to the appellants the sum of N270,000.00 with a Union Bank cheque and also N5,000.00 to complete the cost of transaction. The respondent also stated that in order to effect due performance of the contract, he hired a pay loader for five days at the cost of N180,000.00.

The appellants failed to carry the teak wood as agreed. And in spite of the several demands made for the return of the money paid to him, and the incidental expenses incurred by the respondent for the proper execution of the contract, the appellants refused or neglected  to pay the money. Hence, the respondent commenced this action in the High Court of Cross River State holden at Calabar claiming jointly and severally against the appellants for the sum of N5,000,000.00  (five million Naira) as special and general damages.

Before the commencement of hearing in the matter, the appellants’ counsel filed a motion for the transfer of this suit from the High Court of Cross River State to the High Court of Rivers State which motion the counsel refused to come to court and move after several adjournments. The respondent’s counsel then brought his own motion for accelerated hearing and applied that the appellants’ motion be struck out. The trial court granted respondent’s motion for accelerated hearing and struck out the appellants’ motion and proceeded to hearing the matter.

At the conclusion of the trial, judgment was entered in favour of the respondent.

Dissatisfied, the appellants filed two appeals at the Court of Appeal, one against the judgment and the other one against the order of trial court refusing his application for setting aside the judgment. The Court of Appeal dismissed the two appeals. Not yet satisfied, the appellants appealed to the Supreme court.