PRE-JUDGMENT INTEREST IS NOT AUTOMATIC; IT MUST BE SPECIFICALLY CLAIMED AND PROVEN BEFORE IT WILL BE AWARDED BY A COURT
CASE DETAILS: COAST OIL LIMITED v. TUBOSCOPE VETCO INTERNATIONAL & ANOR (2019) LPELR-46450(CA)
LEAD JUDGMENT BY: UGOCHUKWU ANTHONY OGAKWU, J.C.A.
PRACTICE AREA: CONTRACT
FACTS OF THE CASE
This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Lagos State.
The Appellant and the 1st Respondent had a business relationship wherein they executed contract projects in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. While the business relationship lasted they executed contracts for the 2nd Respondent. The business affairs of the Appellant and 1st Respondent went catawampus and litigation arose as a consequence. The action which spawned this appeal was instituted by the Appellant before the High Court of Lagos State in Suit No. LD/926/2000: Coast Oil Limited v. Tuboscope Vetco International & Anor. The Appellant claimed the following reliefs:
“1. As against the 1st Defendant:
(i) An Order that the partnership between the Claimant and the 1st Defendant be dissolved.
(ii) An Order that the affairs of the partnership be wound up.
(iii) Sale of partnership assets.
(iv) For the purpose aforesaid that all necessary accounts and inquiries be taken and made.
(v) Payment to the claimant of all sums found due to the Claimant on the taking of the said accounts.
(vi) Interest on the sums found due to the Claimant at Central Bank of Nigeria rates per annum from 1999 to judgment;
(vii) Interest on the judgment sum at the rate of 10% per annum from the date of judgment until the final liquidation thereof.
(viii) Such further or other relief as the Court may deem fit.
- As against the 2nd Defendant:
(i) The sum of N2,561,145.70 (Two Million, Five Hundred and Sixty-One Thousand, One Hundred and Forty-Five Naira, Seventy Kobo) being monies due from the 2nd Defendant to the Claimant for price adjustments under Contract No. L-1239.
(ii) Interest on the said sum at the rate of 21% per annum from June, 1995 till judgment.
(iii) Interest on the judgment sum at the rate of 10% per annum from the date of judgment until final liquidation thereof.”
The parties filed and exchanged pleadings and the matter went to trial with the parties adducing testimonial and documentary evidence. At the hearing, the Appellant abandoned reliefs 1 (i)-(iii) against the 1st Respondent and pursued the other reliefs. In its judgment, the High Court entered judgment in part for the Appellant against the 1st Respondent but dismissed the case against the 2nd Respondent. The Appellant was dissatisfied and therefore appealed to the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:
- Whether the decision of the trial Court on the claim for pre-judgment interest was proper having regards to the law and the peculiar facts of this case.
- Whether or not the reasons relied upon by the trial Court for dismissing the Appellant’s claims against the 2nd Respondent are justifiable.
DECISION OF THE COURT
On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.
- JUDGMENT AND ORDER – AWARD OF INTEREST - Position of the law as regards award of pre-judgment interest
- CONTRACT – PRIVITY OF CONTRACT - General principles of privity of contract
- EVIDENCE – PRESUMPTION OF CORRECTNESS - Presumption of correctness in the findings of Courts; on whom lies the burden to rebut same