⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Limited v. Yinka World Investment Limited & Anor (2012) – CA
– Stare decisis;
Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Limited
1. Yinka world investment Limited;
2. Salaudeen Ambali;
(2012) JELR 35055 (CA);
Court of Appeal
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Mohammed Ambi-usi Danjuma, J.C.A.
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
– B. D. Attoe Esq;
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
– Abani Esq.;
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
This is an appeal against the Judgment of the Lagos State High Court in Suit No ID/1792/2002 wherein Judgment was delivered in favour of the Claimants/Respondents on the 12th day of July, 2007. By the said Judgment, the Respondent was awarded the sum of N11.85 million as the value of lost cargo and 10% interest on the said sum from the date of Judgment until final liquidation.
It is against the trial and Judgment delivered by the Lagos State High Court, that this appeal has been lodged.
It is to be noted that the defendant raised an issue of jurisdiction of the Lagos State High Court at the initial stage. Such was determined by the Court of Appeal, and it mandated the proceedings to take life at the Lagos State High Court, having adjudged the court of having jurisdiction. The Lagos State High Court sat and determined the above suit. The defendant has here on again appealed, and is appealing the same jurisdiction issue determined by the Court of Appeal.
1. Whether the claim between the Appellant and the Respondent is not an Aviation matter and the Lagos State High Court has and can exercise jurisdiction over the claim and award any damages to the Respondent.
2. Whether the receipt issued by the Appellant (page 54 of the record), the purpose of which is stated and as for handling charges and VAT and which on its face referred to the Airway Bill pages 45 and 46 of the records issued by Ethiopian Airlines the carrier of the consignment to the Respondents, is enough to constitute by its own, in the absence of any further evidence, a contract of Bailment between the Respondents and the Appellant.
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
[APPEAL: DISMISSED WITH N50,000]
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. In the instant case, the Lagos State High Court here proceeded to declare Judgment for the Respondent at the suit of the Appellant instituted at the Federal High court that 1st was ordered by this court sitting on appeal to be transferred to the Lagos High Court on the ground that the Federal High Court had no jurisdiction over same, the cause not being an admiralty or Aviation matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, and also that the cause of action and claim related to a simple contract of bailment. That issue of jurisdiction having been decided quo the parties herein, was subject to appeal only to the Supreme Court and not by relitigation. By section 240 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 appeals from the Federal High Court, State High Courts etc lie to the Court of Appeal.
ii. A perusal of the additional Record of Appeal transmitted by the Respondent clearly indicates that the action subject matter of this appeal had been adjudicated upon by this court. The Judgment of this court on CA/L/133/07 between NIGERIA AVIATION HANDLING COMPANY LIMITED AND 1. YINKA WORLD INVESTMENT LIMITED 2. SALAHUDEEN AMBALI was delivered on 27/6/02. At page 50 of the Records this court per the lead Judgment of G. A. OGUNTADE stated thus: “It is my firm view that the Lagos State High Court was right to have assumed jurisdiction to hear and determine this matter. The conclusion l have arrived at is that the lower court had no jurisdiction. I must refrain from discussing the merit of the appeal. To do so would prejudice a fair hearing of the case as I intend to make an order, pursuant to section 22(2) of the Federal High Court Act, which enjoins the Federal High Court, in causes where it has no jurisdiction, to transfer the cause or matter to the State High Court with jurisdiction. In the final conclusion, this appeal succeeds. The Judgment of the lower court given on 25/9/2000 is set aside. In its place I make an order that the case be transferred to the Lagos State High Court for determination…”
From the Judgment aforesaid it is conclusive that this court had exercised its appellate jurisdiction in hearing and determining the merit of the case appealed to it by the parties and as relating the issue of jurisdiction that is sought to be raised anew and twice over before this court.
iii. The law is that the courts will frown against the use of the processes of a court or any of its machineries for an improper purpose or motive. This will be so, particularly where it has an oppressive tendency against either party. Why the circuit? Shall there be no end to litigation and adherence to the doctrine of precedents and hierarchy. The Lagos State high Court is bound by the decision of this court earlier given that it had jurisdiction to hear the matter. So also the Federal High Court is bound by the decision of this court and shall so execute it. The Appellant is therefore wrong to pursue this matter further on the question of the court with jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
2. ISSUE 2 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. Since delivery could be made to the Respondents directly without recourse to the Airlines, for approval, it is my view that the parties intended the Appellant to be personally liable for whatever happened to the goods in the warehouse and custody of the Appellant which might prevent the actual delivery of the goods to the Respondents/owners thereof.
ii. The Appellants as bailees had the obligation of keeping the goods safely until delivery. In the event of loss, it beholved on them to show that they had discharged that duty of care. It is not for the bailee to show how the loss occurred.
S. 240 of the CFRN 1999;
S. 233(1) of the CFRN 1999;
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
ASAFA FOODS FACTORY VS. ALRAINE (NIG) LTD (2002) 12 NWLR (Pt.781) 353 at 373 at pages 373 paragraphs A C; 380 – 381, paragraphs H B, 381 paragraphs E – G the Supreme Court held that “the burden is upon the bailee to prove that he had discharged his duty under his undertaking to keep safely or deliver intact the goods entrusted to him. In other words, in case of loss of the goods, it is his duty as bailee to prove that the loss was not caused by his breach of duty or any failure on his part to take reasonable care; It is not the bailers duty to show that it did …in this case, the loss of 428 cartons of the Appellants goods occurred while the consignment was in the possession of the Respondents. The onus of proof was therefore on the Respondents as bailees to show that the loss occurred without their fault or negligence and without any failure on their part to take reasonable care which onus they failed to discharge.”
BROADLINE ENT. LIMITED vs. MONTERY MARITIME CORP. (1995) 9 NWLR (Pt.417) 1 at 23-24 par. G – B wherein the Supreme Court held thus: “Although bailment is often associated with a contract, an action against a bailee can quite often be presented not only as an action in contract nor in tort, but as an action on its own sui generis, arising out of the possession had by the bailee of the goods. The law of bailment therefore overlaps the categories of the law of contract, tort and property and a bailee’s duty to take care with regard to the subject matter of the bailment can lie in contract or in tort.”
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
Any ground of appeal that does not emanate from the decision is incompetent as it would be held to be speculative, unfounded and in violation of the sancrosact position of the law that parties, just as the court are bound by the record of proceedings. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
It is the law that any ground of appeal which has no issue formulated there from shall be deemed abandoned and consequentially struck out. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
Let me say that, it is not only expedient but most reasonable to resolve this issue first as it has thrust to the fore not only the vexed issue of jurisdiction of the lower court, but also it raises the issue of the jurisdiction of this court in reconsidering its final Judgment by sitting on appeal over it or allowing its relitigation. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
The issue of jurisdiction is so fundamental that it is considered as the pivotal and life wire of adjudication. In a litigation, it is trite that a determination and outcome of an issue that centres on jurisdiction determines whether or not the other issues will be considered. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
Jurisdiction is a threshold issue, such that in any adjudication an objection, to the jurisdiction of the court to entertain a claim, is fundamental, for if there is want of jurisdiction the proceedings thereafter would become a nullity however well conducted and even if the parties submit to the jurisdiction. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
A court is not only entitled but is bound to put an end to proceedings if at any stage and by any means it becomes manifest that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the proceeding. lt can do so suo motu or on its initiative. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
This court having rendered a Judgment has become functus officio and cannot take an appeal in respect of the same company relating to jurisdiction decided. To do so would amount to an exercise in judicial usurpation of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to hear appeals from decision of the Court of Appeal. It would also amount to this court sitting on appeal over its own Judgment. Having no such power, therefore, this court cannot entertain an appeal that seeks to urge it to so do (as being done by the Appellant herein). – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
The principle of stare decisis the latin jargon that translates into “stand by thing interpreted or decided,” denotes that a court of law or Tribunal must follow previous decisions when same points arise again in litigation. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
Bailment is defined as a delivery of goods on condition that the recipient shall ultimately restore them to the baillor. They may be hired, or lent, or pledged, or as in this case deposited for safe custody. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
In the law of agency, it is trite that a principal may be sued together with his agent; but where liability is established the principal bears the burden to the extent that the agent is shown to have acted in strict compliance with his agency. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)
In such a contract of bailment it is the parties therein that are bound by the agreement. A non party as the Ethiopian Airlines, who has not been shown in the agreement or in the cause of the transaction of handling and warehousing of the goods as a disclosed principal, cannot be brought in. – AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A. NAHC v. Yinka (2012)