⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Mr. Grant Kayode Yankey v. Florence Austin (2020) – CA
– Sharing of property;
– Decision from foreign jurisdiction;
Mr. Grant Kayode Yankey
Court of Appeal
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Ugochukwu Anthony Ogakwu, J.C.A.
* FOR THE APPELLANT
– Yinka Ajana, Esq.
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
– Olufemi Abiodun, Esq.
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
The Appellant and the Respondent having divorced in the United States of America. The Court entered judgment in terms of the Marital Termination Agreement. There was no plenary trial, no evidence was adduced. Their homestead at 4104 Lakeside Avenue, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota was awarded to her exclusively. But it did not end there.
There is a property in Nigeria. It is situate at No. 12, Femi Akinfolarin Street, off Association Avenue Road, Ikotun, Lagos. She commenced proceedings in the High Court of Lagos State in respect of the said property. The proceedings were in SUIT NO. ID/1207/2012: FLORENCE AUSTIN vs. MR. GRANT KAYODE YANKEY.
The Respondent herein, was the Claimant in the action. She claimed the following reliefs, inter alia, against the Appellant herein as Defendant: (a) A Declaration that the Claimant is entitled with the Defendant to equal share of the property lying, being and situate at No 12, Femi Akinfolarin Street, Off Association Avenue Road, Ikotun Lagos State and covered by Certificate of Occupancy dated 21st day of August, 1990 and registered as 55/55/1990Y, in the Land Registry at Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State, containing 2 Wings of 8 Bedroom duplex each and its appurtenances thereof.
In its judgment the lower Court, Coram Judice: Akinkugbe, J. entered judgment in her favour. All the reliefs claimed were granted.
He was dissatisfied with the decision. He appealed against the same.
1. Whether the Court below was right in granting the reliefs sought by the Respondent having regards to the law and the preponderance of evidence before the Honourable Court.
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
[APPEAL: ALLOWED, TO BE PAID COST N300,000 TO THE APPELLANT BY THE RESPONDENT]
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED IN FAVOUR OF THE APPELLANT BUT AGAINST THE RESPONDENT.
i. At the expense of prolixity, I restate that issue of the Lagos property was not before the United States Court. The Respondent however argued that part of the reliefs before the lower Court and in respect of which judgment was entered was the relief “for such other relief as the Court may deem just and equitable”. By all odds, a Court can grant a consequential order in order to give effect to its judgment. It is a relief granted as incidental to the main relief. It is inconceivable and incomprehensible how an issue that was not in the pleadings before the Court can ground a consequential relief in the circumstances of this matter.
ii. There is nothing, when the afore-stated paragraph 7 of Exhibit FA1 is given its plain and ordinary meaning, which would conduce to a construction that it was therein agreed that the Lagos property was jointly-owned by the parties. The stipulation in paragraph 6 of Exhibit FA1 for the Appellant to execute a deed conveying his interest in the United States property (which was in issue in the Petition Exhibit FA6) shows that the said property was jointly-owned; there is nothing in respect of the Lagos property (which I iterate was not in issue before the United States Court) on the basis of which it can be concluded that it was jointly-owned. The distribution of the Lagos property was reserved for adjudication in a Court in Nigeria.
iii. The findings of facts of the United Stated Court in paragraph VII of Exhibit FA2, that the parties own real property in Lagos, going by the stipulations of paragraph 7 of Exhibit FA1, the Marital Termination Agreement, does not equate to a finding of fact on joint ownership of the Lagos property, in the light of the fact that the Lagos property was not an issue before it and it could therefore not adjudicate upon the same, coupled with the fact that even if it was an issue before it, it could not have adjudicated upon the same based on the principle of lex situs and the fact that the subject matter was not within its jurisdiction.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
Now, it is rudimentary law that the issues in an action are ascertained and based on the pleadings. – Ogakwu, J.C.A. Yankey v. Austin (2020)
Issues are joined on the pleadings, not in the evidence. – Ogakwu, J.C.A. Yankey v. Austin (2020)
It is equally hornbook law that in the determination of disputes between parties in Court, the decision must be confined to the issues properly raised by the parties. When an issue is not properly placed before the Court, the Court has no business whatsoever to deal with it. – Ogakwu, J.C.A. Yankey v. Austin (2020)
It is the trial Court that has the duty of evaluation of evidence and ascription of probative value thereto. There is a duty on the trial Court to receive all available relevant evidence on an issue. This is perception of evidence. After that there is another duty to weigh that evidence in the context of the surrounding circumstances of the case. This is evaluation of evidence. A finding of fact will entail both perception and evaluation. – Ogakwu, J.C.A. Yankey v. Austin (2020)
A Court of trial has the duty to consider the evidence adduced in respect of any facts on which issues were joined, decide which evidence to prefer on the basis of how the evidence preponderates and then make logical and consequential findings of facts. – Ogakwu, J.C.A. Yankey v. Austin (2020)
Let me hasten to iterate that there was no trial in the proceedings in the United States Court, no evidence was led, so any findings of facts made by the United States Court would necessarily derive from the Petition filed before it, Exhibit FA6 and the Marital Termination Agreement, Exhibit FA1. – Ogakwu, J.C.A. Yankey v. Austin (2020)
The decision of the lower Court to close its eyes to and shut out the evidence afforded by 28 Exhibit FA6 and merely treat it as showing that the Respondent filed a Petition for divorce impacted on the lower court drawing wrong conclusions from the evidence and making findings of facts that do not result from the evidence. If the lower court had ascribed due probative value to Exhibit FA6, it would have been apparent to it that the Lagos property, on the pleadings, was not an issue before the United States Court and not being an issue, the United States Court could not have validly adjudicated on or made any findings or orders in respect thereof. – Ogakwu, J.C.A. Yankey v. Austin (2020)