Alhaji Ibrahim Yakassai v. Incar Motors (NIG.) Ltd [1975]



Alhaji Ibrahim Yakassai v. Incar Motors (NIG.) Ltd [1975] – SC

by NSA PaulPipAr



– Commercial Law

⦿ TAG(S)



Alhaji Ibrahim Yakassai


Incar Motors (NIG.) Ltd


(1975) All N.L.R. 287;


Supreme Court


Ibekwe, J.S.C.



– Mr Lewis Thomas.


– Mr Majiyagbe.


⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)

This is an appeal from the decision of Wali, Ag. J., as he then was.

The plaintiff’s claims in the court below are as follows:- “The defendants detain and have refused to deliver to the plaintiff the plaintiff’s goods, that is to say Fiat Lorry Registration No. KN. 1975 and a Trailer Registration No. KN 2389 and the defendants hereby converted the same to his own use and wrongly deprived the plaintiff of the said goods. Wherefore the plaintiff claims:- (1) The return of the said vehicles or their value being £5,000; (2) Damages for detention of the said vehicles limited to 3,000:£8,000;

Pleadings were ordered and filed.
At the trial, the plaintiff called two witnesses in support of his claim. The defendants called four witnesses, but no Hire Purchase Agreement was admitted in evidence.

After hearing evidence from both sides, the learned trial Judge adjourned the case for judgment. In a considered judgment delivered on 13th October, 1972, Wali, Ag. J., as he then was, after reviewing all the evidence before him, reached the conclusion that the transaction between the plaintiff and the defendants was a conditional sale, and that the plaintiff had acted in violation of the conditions of the sale, i.e. instalmental payments. The learned trial Judge therefore, dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.

Also read:  John Okoye v. The State (1972) - SC

Dissatisfied with the decision of the learned trial Judge, the plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court.


1. Whether there was a conditional sale between the Appellant and the Respondent?




1. We agree with the learned Counsel for the parties in this case that the learned trial Judge erred on deciding the case on an issue which was never raised on the pleadings. The law is that in all civil matters where pleadings are filed, the court should only consider matters in respect of which issue have been joined by the parties in their pleadings. We think that unless the pleadings are amended it is not open to the court to introduce fresh issues which do not arise from the pleadings, as that course of action would tend to defeat the very purpose for which pleadings are required in civil cases. Accordingly, we take the view that the learned trial Judge was wrong in holding that the transaction between the parties in this case amounted to a conditional sale, a point which did not and could not have emerged from the pleadings.

ii. In view of the fact that the court below did not make any provisional assessment of the damages, we have no alternative than to send this case back to the learned trial Judge with the following directives:- To assess- (1) The value of the vehicle at the material time, which is the time of seizure. (2) Damages payable to the plaintiff. (3) And to enter judgment accordingly in favour of the plaintiff. The respondents shall pay to the appellant N205.00 costs in the court below and the costs of this appeal fixed at N192.00.

Also read:  Madam Alice Okesuji vs Fatai Alabi Lawal (1991) - SC




In Kofi v. Mensah, delivering the judgment of the court at page 76 of the Report, Deane, C.J. The Gold Coast Colony said: “The question that had to be decided in this case in order to determine whether or not the defendant had the right to seize this lorry was whether the lorry had been sold outright by the defendant to the plaintiff, in which case the property in the lorry would vest in the plaintiff, or whether there was a hire purchase agreement under which the property would remain in the defendant, so that he could take possession of it on failure by the plaintiff to pay the instalments. On the evidence we think there can be no doubt that an outright sale took place. The defendant’s witness Yaw Enin says I was present when the plaintiff agreed to purchase a lorry from the defendant’. That being the case, on the authority of Thompson v. Veale, (1896) 74 L.T. 130, the defendant would have no right to seize the lorry on failure of the plaintiff to pay the instalments, even although the Judge found that the plaintiff had agreed in his contract to that course, and his only remedy would be to enforce payment of the instalments by action in the courts’.”





We think that there is yet need for us to draw attention to the kind of procedure which governs the assessment of damages for personal injuries by the court where the decision is adverse to the plaintiff. We take the view that the same practice should, as far as possible, be followed by the courts in other appropriate claims for damages. The rule is that in cases which involve difficult questions of the law and are likely to be taken to appeal, it is always desirable that the trial Judge, whether or not he is specifically requested by Counsel to do so, should assess the damages provisionally, if his decision is adverse to the plaintiff. Failure to do so frequently results in unnecessary further expense to the parties. – Ibekwe, J.S.C. Yakassai v. Incar (1975)

Also read:  Sylvester D.E. Egbase v. Augustine O. Oriareghan (1985)


The difference between an Outright Sale and a Hire Purchase Agreements is that in the former, the property in the vehicle passes to the purchaser as soon as the contract is entered into, whereas in Hire Purchase Agreement, the property in the vehicle still remains vested in the owner until payment is fully made. In other words, under a Hire Purchase Agreement it is always open to the owner of a vehicle to take possession of it on failure of the hirer to pay the instalments. In an outright sale, the seller’s remedy lies in an action to recover the balance of payment owed by the purchaser. – Ibekwe, J.S.C. Yakassai v. Incar (1975)

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