CAN DELAY IN DELIVERY OF A JUDGEMENT OCCASION A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE?

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CASE TITLE: UNITY BANK v. KWARA CHEMICAL CO. LTD & ANOR (2019) LPELR-48468(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 2ND SEPTEMBER, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: CIVIL PROCEDURE

LEAD JUDGMENT: IBRAHIM SHATA BDLIYA, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.

FACTS

This is an appeal against the judgment of the High Court of Justice, Kwara State in suit No. KWS/128/2019, delivered on the 15th day of May 2017, presided over by HALIMA SALEEMAN, J.

The 1st respondent, a limited liability company, was a customer of First Interstate Bank which was merged with other Banks in 2006 to form the Unity Bank (the appellant) who inherited all the assets and liabilities of the defunct First Interstate Bank. The appellant claimed that the 1st respondent was owing the Bank the sum of N77,684,942.25K, which was disputed. The respondents asserted that only the sum of N9,048,137.32K was due for payment to the appellant. The respondents then instituted an action against the appellant seeking a perpetual injunction order to restrain the appellant from taking over the control of its properties. The appellant in reaction to the suit instituted by the 1st respondent filed a statement of defence together with a Counter-claim. At this stage, the appellant applied for and obtained an order joining Alhaji Babs Aremu Yahaya as the 2nd respondent in the counter-claim. The respondents did not prosecute the suit filed by them, hence it was struck out on the 7th of November, 2011. The Counter-claim action was transferred to the High Court for adjudication.

On the 27th of May, 2014, the High Court commenced adjudication of the Counter-claim whereby a witness testified, thereafter, the appellant closed its case. The matter was adjourned for Defence to the 16th of May, 2015. The 2nd respondent testified after adopting his statement on oath. The High Court delivered judgment on the 15th day of May 2017, dismissing the counter-claim for being without merit. Aggrieved by the dismissal of the counter-claim, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:

  1. Whether the lower Court rightly rejected admitting the Respondent’s letters dated 6/10/2008 and 30/12/2008 from evidence?
  2. Whether the lower Court rightly granted the Respondents’ motion to call additional witnesses after the Appellant had closed its case?
  3. Whether the appellant proved that it granted Import Finance facility of N30 million to the Respondents?
  4. Whether the Appellant proved that the Respondents are indebted to the Appellant on the facilities granted to them?
  5. Whether delivering the judgment more than three (3) months after the adoption of final addresses by counsel occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice due to the fact that the lower Court had lost the trend of the case?

DECISION/HELD

On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.

RATIOS:

  • APPEAL- INTERFERENCE WITH FINDING(S) OF FACT(S): Instance(s) where an appellate court will not interfere with the findings of a lower court; what amounts to a perverse finding and factors that determine perverse findings of the court.
  • EVIDENCE- CALLING OF WITNESS(ES): Principles governing the grant of an application for leave to call additional witnesses whose deposition on oath did not accompany the pleadings of a party.
  • JUDGMENT AND ORDER- DELIVERY OF JUDGMENT: Time frame within which judgment of the court must be delivered and effect of failure of an appellant to show that the delay in the delivery of judgment occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
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lawpavilion • September 16, 2019


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