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CHIEF ADENIRAN AJAO & COMPANY LIMITED v. ENGINEER ADEOLA AJIDAHUN

(2019) LPELR-47514(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Wednesday, the 15th day of May, 2019

CA/L/102/2010


Before Their Lordships

JOSEPH SHAGBAOR IKYEGH Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

UGOCHUKWU ANTHONY OGAKWU Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

GABRIEL OMONIYI KOLAWOLE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

CHIEF ADENIRAN AJAO & CO. LTD
-APPELLANT/CROSS RESPONDENT - Appellant(s)

AND

ENGINEER ADEOLA AJIDAHUN
-RESPONDENT/CROSS APPELLANT - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Award of damages.
FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Lagos State.

The provenance of this appeal is in the agreement between the parties for the sale of land situate at Abule Panu Mosebi Village (Ajao Estate) Anthony Village, Off Ikorodu Road, Lagos. The parties initially agreed for the sale of Plot 231. The Respondent/Cross Appellant made part payment but the Appellant/Cross Respondent later resold the land to another purchaser before the Respondent/Cross Appellant completed payment. The Respondent/Cross Appellant was then offered an alternative plot and the part payment he had previously made was credited to the alternative plot, id est, Plot 235. The Respondent/Cross Appellant completed payment for the Plot but once again it transpired that the said Plot 235 had been sold to a third party. The attempt to provide the Respondent/Cross Appellant with another plot fell through as issues were raised as to the Appellant/Cross Respondent's title over the said plot. 

Consequent upon the failure by the Appellant/Cross Respondent to conclude the sale of the land, the Respondent/Cross Appellant instituted proceedings at the High Court of Lagos State in SUIT NO. ID/2517/1997: ENGINEER ADEOLA AJIDAHUN vs. CHIEF ADENIRAN AJAO & CO. LIMITED. The relief claimed in the Amended Statement of Claim is as follows: 
"SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE of the contract for the sale of a parcel of land measuring approximately 1055.24 Sq yards at Abule Panu Mosebi Village Off Ikorodu Road now known as Ajao Estate Anthony Off Ikorodu Road, Lagos.
ALTERNATIVELY
The sum of N10 Million (Ten Million Naira Only) being damages of the breach of contract for the sale of a parcel of land measuring approximately 1055.24 Sq yards at Abule Panu Mosebi Village Off Ikorodu Road now known as Ajao Estate Anthony Village Off Ikorodu Road Lagos."

Pleadings were filed and exchanged and the matter was subjected to a full dressed hearing at which testimonial and documentary evidence was adduced. 

In its judgment, the lower Court, Coram Judice: Okuwobi, J. entered judgment for the Respondent/Cross Appellant in terms of the alternative relief claimed and inter alia, awarded the sum of N2.9 million as damages for breach of contract. 

The Appellant/Cross Respondent was dissatisfied with the judgment and appealed against the same. 

The Respondent/Cross Appellant was equally dissatisfied with the measure and quantum of damages awarded by the lower Court and he filed a cross appeal. 

ISSUES:
The Court determined the main appeal on the issues formulated by the Appellant, as follows:
"1. Whether or not in the circumstance of the case, Learned Trial Judge having rightly held that the Claimant had waived his right to any claim in respect of plot 235 and subsequently dismissed the claims to specific performance was right to have awarded damages to the claimant for the sum of N 2,996,834.62 in respect of the alternative claim of damages for the breach of contract based on the same plot 235.
2. If the answer to issue no. 1 is in the negative, whether or not the Learned Trial Judge was right to have assessed the loss of bargain as the difference between the contract price of the said plot and the market value of the land in April 1994, the alleged date of the breach, when no evidence was led to the value of the said plot as at the alleged date of breach."

The Court resolved the Cross-appeal on the issues formulated by parties, as follows:
Cross appellant's issues:
"i. Whether the learned trial judge was right in assessing the quantum of damages as the difference between the purchase price and the market value at the date of the breach of contract and not at the date of judgement.
ii. Whether the learned trial judge was right to have refused awarding the sum of N10,000,000 claimed as damages by the Claimant for breach of contract when the evidence of the Claimant was not controverted."

Cross Respondent's issues: 
"i. Whether the learned Trial Judge was right in stating that the quantum of damages for breach of contract of sale of land where there is no defect in title is the difference between the purchase price and the market value of the date of the breach of contract and not the date of Judgment.
ii. Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right not to have awarded the sum of N10, 000.00 claimed as damages by the claimant for breach of contract when the evidence of the Claimant were not controverted." 


DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court held that the main appeal succeeded in part. The decision of the lower Court was affirmed save for the reduction in the damages awarded as set out in the judgment.

On the other hand, the cross-appeal was held to be  devoid of merit and was accordingly dismissed. 


Read Full Judgment