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  • 2013-11-29
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YOUNG V CHEVRON NIGERIA LIMITED

OGBOMA YOUNG
V
CHEVRON NIGERIA LIMITED
COURT OF APPEAL
(LAGOS DIVISION)

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE JCA (Presided and Read the Lead Judgment)
SAMUEL CHUKWUDUMEBI OSEJI JCA
TIJJANI ABUBAKAR JCA

CA/L/346/2009
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2013

DAMAGES - Assessment of - Duty of trial court therefor
DAMAGES -Award of - Purport of - Assessment of - Grinding principle for - Restitutio in integrum - Principle of - What envisages
DAMAGES - Ipse dixit - Meaning of - Court - Whether may rely on to assess damages
DAMAGES - Meaning of - Special and general damages - Distinction between - How must be proved - Claim for special damages - Strict proof required - Degree of
DAMAGES - Restitutio in integrum - Meaning of
EVIDENCE - Burden of proof - Onus on who asserts to prove - Plaintiff - Duty on to succeed on strength of own case and not rely on weakness of defence - Failure to - Effect of
EVIDENCE - Credible evidence - Meaning of

EVIDENCE - Ipse dixit - Meaning of - Court - Whether may rely on to assess damages
EVIDENCE - Proof - Meaning of
MAXIM - Restitutio in integrum - Meaning of
MAXIM - Ubi jus, ibi remedium - Meaning of - Applicability of
PLEADINGS - Meaning of
WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Credible evidence’- Meaning of
WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Pleadings’ - Meaning of
WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Proof ’ - Meaning of
WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Restitutio in integrum’ - Meaning of
WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Ubi jus, ibi remedium’ - Meaning of -
Applicability of

Issues:
1. Whether in a case of special damages requiring strict proof, it is the law that the burden of proof never shifts to the defendant.
In other words, whether the failure of the respondent to adduce evidence as to an alternative market value of the crops in question reduced the burden on the appellant of strict proof of those items on his claim for special damages.
2. Whether the appellate court can intervene to assess and evaluate the quantum of special damages where the trial court fails to justifiably appraise accepted evidence in the assessment and evaluation thereof.
3. Whether having regard to the evidence and upon a proper application of the principle of restitutio in integrum, the refusal to award damages wits in adequate compensation in the circumstances for loss of income.

Facts:
The appellant claimed in the High Court of Lagos State that his farmland which was near the respondent’s site was destroyed by the respondent while the latter was cutting a track to a canal, when it started a fire which spread and burnt his farmland. He therefore prayed the court for the sum of N5,395,000.00 (five million, three hundred and ninety-five thousand naira), being the value of farm produce or loss of income from the farms and N2,105,000.000 (two million, one hundred and five thousand naira) being the value of the crops and/or for rehabilitating the farm.

The trial court held that the act of the respondent caused damage to the appellant’s farm but declined to grant him the reliefs sought on grounds of his failure to prove the special damages claimed by him. Not satisfied, the appellant filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal, contending that the trial court erred by refusing to grant him reliefs claimed when the respondent failed to adduce evidence to rebut his claims.