BEST LAW REPORT SUBSCRIPTION PRICE!!

  • R.C.C. (Nig.) Ltd. vs. R.P.C. Ltd
  • 265
  • 2005-06-27
  • ₦ 200
  • Buy Now

R.C.C. (Nig.) Ltd. vs. R.P.C. Ltd

REYNOLDS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY NIGERIA LIMITED

V

ROCKONOH PROPERTIES COMPANY LIMITED

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI JSC ( Presided )

ALOYSIUS IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU JSC

DAHIRU MUSDAPHER JSC

IGNATIUS CHUKWUDI PATS-ACHOLONU JSC

GEORGE ADESOLA OGUNTADE JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SC. 49/1999

FRIDAY, 15TH APRIL, 2005

COURT - Exploitation - Duty of court not to allow itself to be used as a tool for

DAMAGES - Claims for - Courts’ deeming of as traversed except where expressly admitted - Propriety of defendant specifically traversing

DAMAGES - Exaggerated, unreasonable and oppressive claim for damages - Attitude of court to

DAMAGES - Mitigation of damages - Plaintiff failing to take steps to mitigate damages - Defendant raising - Mode of pleading of

DAMAGES - Mitigation of loss - Plaintiff’s duty in respect of - Nature of

DAMAGES - Mitigation of loss - Standard of conduct required of plaintiff therein - Test for

DAMAGES - Special damages - Need to specifically plead and strictly prove

EVIDENCE - Admission - Effect of - Relevance of to issues for determination before the court and admissible evidence

EVIDENCE - Special damages - Need to specifically plead and strictly prove

LAND LAW - Leases - Covenant to repair - Breach of by tenant Remedies available to landlord

LAND LAW - Leases - Covenants to repair - Construction of by court

LANDLORD AND TENANT - Covenant to repair - Breach of by tenant -  Remedies available to landlord

LANDLORD AND TENANT - Leases - Covenants to repair - Construction of by court

PLEADINGS - Mitigation of damages -  Plaintiff failing to take steps to mitigate damages - Defendant raising - Mode of pleading of

PLEADINGS - Special damages - Need to specifically plead and strictly prove

Issues:

1.              Whether the Court of Appeal was correct in law when it held that ‘mitigation’ was not pleaded by the appellant and that mitigation was the crucial reason for dismissing the plaintiff’s claim.

2.              Whether, if mitigation was not pleaded by the appellant as the Court of Appeal held, the respondent proved its case on a balance of probabilities as required by law.

3.              Whether having allowed the cross-appeal, the Court of Appeal was correct in law when it failed to consider its effect on the whole case.

4.              Whether the respondent proved the amount of N369,000.00 arrears of rent awarded it by the Court of Appeal.

5.              Whether the Court of Appeal was correct in law when it awarded to the respondent the sum of N360,000.00 as mesne profits when it was not proved before the trial court and the Court of Appeal.

6.              Whether the Court of Appeal was correct in law when it awarded interest at 13% per annum to the respondent on the N369,000.00 which it decided was the arrears of rent.

Facts:

The respondent leased 24 (twenty-four) buildings to the appellant vide 3 (three) lease agreements. The agreements as required by law stipulated the rents on the property and the time which the leasehold terms shall determine. The agreements also contained a repair covenant clause to wit; that the appellant shall at the expiration of its terms repair/redecorate the properties and put them in their pre-tenancy condition. At the expiration of the terms, the appellant sought to hand over the keys to the properties to the respondent, who refused contending that the appellant had not fulfilled the repair covenant. At the time of the expiration of the terms, there was no outstanding rent.

Two years later and after several correspondences, and during which time the properties were vacant, the respondent filed an action in the Enugu High Court [Coram Edozie J. (as he then was)] claiming arrears of rents for the period it refused to take over the properties, mesne profits, an order directing the defendant (appellant herein) to restore the houses to a habitable and tenantable condition and interests on the outstanding rents as claimed. At the trial, evidence revealed that the appellant had carried out repairs on the properties in compliance with the covenant of repair but the respondent was not satisfied therewith. Also during the period of the properties being vacant, there were several prospective tenants interested in taking the properties. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff/respondent’s claim. Dissatisfied, the plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeal, the defendant also cross-appealed. The Court of Appeal allowed both the appeal and cross-appeal. The appeal was allowed on the ground that the learned trial Judge erred in introducing the issue of mitigation of loss into the case, when this was not pleaded. Dissatisfied, the defendant further appealed to the Supreme Court.