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  • Ras Pal Gazi Constr. Co. Ltd. v. F.C.D.A.
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  • 2001-07-09
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Ras Pal Gazi Constr. Co. Ltd. v. F.C.D.A.

RAS PAL GAZI CONSTRUCTION COMPANY LIMITED.

V

FEDERAL CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

SALIHU MODIBBO ALFA BELGORE, JSC (Presided)

MICHAEL EKUNDAYO OGUNDARE, JSC

EMANUEL OBIOMA OGWUEGBU, JSC

A. IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU, JSC (Read the Lead Judgment)

UMARU ATU KALGO, JSC

SC/45/96

FRIDAY, 18TH MAY, 2001

ARBITRATION- Arbitration proceedings - Whether same as negotiation for settlement out of court

ARBITRATION- Arbitral award - Power of High Court thereover - Extent of ’- Whether can convert award to its own judgment

ARBITRATION- Arbitration proceedings Matter decided upon therein Whether court can intervene therein - Section 34, Arbitration and Conciliation Act

ARBITRATION - Arbitral award - Right of parties to challenge - Section 32 , Arbitration and Conciliation Act

ARBITRATION- Arbitral award- Effect of - When has force of judgment

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS- Consent judgment - Procedure for arriving at

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Dispute resolution - Alternative mode of PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Settlement out of court - Right thereto

-  Effect - When becomes binding

Issues:

i.                Whether the High Court has jurisdiction to convert award into its own judgment instead of merely recognising the award as binding on the parties for purposes of enforcement

ii.              Whether the High Court has jurisdiction to award interest on the arbitral award in exercise of its judicial discretion under Order 27 rule 8 of the Abuja High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1985.

Facts:

The appellant herein, on 3/7/89 sued the respondent, claiming

(a)            A declaration that plaintiffs are entitled to payment of the value of the work done by them, including the materials on site

(b)           An order of the court restraining the defendants from ejecting the plaintiffs from the contract construction site until the final determination of this court.

(c)            An order of the court that the defendants should quantify and assess the value of the work and investment so far made by the plaintiff before re-awarding the contract to any other person.

Although pleadings were ordered by the High Court, the parties never exchanged pleadings as they both resolved to refer the issues between them to an arbitrator to be appointed by both parties. They, therefore, sought and obtained leave of the High Court to appoint an arbitrator to resolve the issues between them and report back to court.

The parties eventually went to arbitration at the end of which the arbitrator made an award in the total sum of N7,807,897.68 in favour of the plaintiff, which amount included interest at the rate of 25% per annum on unpaid balance of payment due to the plaintiff from 1987 to the date of the award. While arbitration was on, the suit in court was adjourned from time to time for mention. On the completion of arbitration, the arbitrator’s report containing his award was filed in court.

On 13/3/90, when the matter came up in court for mention, the respondent tried to set aside the award. The court in its ruling delivered on the same date made the arbitrator’s award the judgment of the court and awarded 20% interest on the judgment sum, effective from the date of judgment.

The respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal against the orders of the trial court, which court allowed the appeal and set aside both orders of the trial court. The appellant, being aggrieved now appealed to the Supreme Court.