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Kentus Chemicals and Allied Projects Ltd v. UBA Plc

KENTUS CHEMICALS AND ALLIED PROJECTS LTD

V

UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA PLC

COURT OF APPEAL

( BENIN DIVISION )

RAPHAEL CHIKWE AGBO JCA ( Presided )

OYEBISI FOLAYEMI OMOLEYE JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CHIOMA EGONDU NWOSU-IHEME JCA

CA/B/299/2005

THURSDAY, 12 JULY 2012

APPEAL - Damages - Definition of - Award of - Purport of - Attitude of appellate court to award of by trial court

APPEAL - Findings of fact - Basis of - Primary duty of trial court to make - Appellant who challenges - What must establish - Appellate court - Attitude of thereto

APPEAL - Nature of

BANKING LAW - Bank and customer - Relationship between - Nature of

CONTRACT - Genuineness of - Impropriety of party who has benefitted from challenging

CONTRACT - Special and general damages in a case of breach of contract - Propriety of awarding - Need for court to be cautious to avoid double compensation

CONTRACT - Terms of - Bindingness of parties by - Document not forming part of - Inadmissibility of to resolve dispute arising therefrom

DAMAGES - Definition of - Award of - Purport of - Attitude of appellate court to award of by trial court

DAMAGES - General damages - Definition of

DAMAGES - Special damages - Award of for breach of contract Propriety of - Claimant for - Impropriety of double compensation for

PLEADINGS - Bindingness of parties thereby

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Pleadings - Bindingness of parties by

Issues:

  1. Whether the learned trial judge was right in deciding in the judgment that the plaintiff’s shipping documents formed part of the security for the facility granted the plaintiff by the defendant.
  2. Whether the learned trial judge was right in deciding that the plaintiff was obliged to pay to the defendant, the cost which the defendant incurred in clearing the goods.
  3. Whether the learned trial judge was right in dismissing the plaintiff’s claim in detinue in the face of the findings of fact that the defendant was not justified in detaining the plaintiff’s shipping documents after the plaintiff had repaid the facility for which the defendant held the documents.

Facts:

The appellant was the plaintiff in the High Court of Delta State. It claimed that it obtained an import facility from the respondent, for the purposes of importing second hand motor spare parts from England. It further claimed that it provided 30% of the necessary funds according to the agreement, while the respondent provided the remaining 70% and directed that the shipping documents be delivered to it through the respondent. It further stated that the respondent however refused to release the shipping documents when the goods arrived to enable the appellant clear the goods on ground that the 70% contributed by the respondent must be paid. In the process, the goods went into demurrage. The respondent subsequently unilaterally cleared the goods and warehoused it. It thereafter debited the appellant’s account with the cost of clearing and warehousing the goods. Not satisfied, the appellant commenced an action praying the court for a declaratory and injunctive reliefs that the appellant is not entitled to debit its account for the clearing and warehousing without its consent, the purported debit advice issued for the said amount and any purported interest charged on it was invalid, illegal and of no effect whatsoever, the withholding of the shipping documents is wrongful and illegal, an order of injunction, restraining the respondent from further charging interest on the account in respect of any purported expenses incurred in clearing the goods and special and general damages. The trial court dismissed the appellant’s claims, save for order for return of the shipping documents to it. Not satisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal, challenging the decision of the trial court for holding that the documents formed part of the security for the loan and that it was obliged to pay the respondent the cost which it incurred in clearing the goods.