⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Henry Stephens Engineering Co. Limited v. Complete Home Enterprises Nigeria Limited  – SC
by NSA PaulPipAr
– Merchantable quality;
– Concurrent findings of fact;
Henry Stephens Engineering Co. Limited
Complete Home Enterprises Nigeria Limited
(1987) All N.L.R. 28;
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
It emerged from the pleadings and the evidence adduced at the trial that the plaintiff (now Appellant) supplied to the defendants at Port Harcourt all the machineries which were ordered by the defendant from the plaintiff. Amongst the machineries was hydraulic crane described as “T.788 Koehring Crane” whose net selling price was N93,100.00. This crane was the bone of contention. Of the net price the defendant paid the sum of N66,443.33 to the plaintiff. It was the balance of the price and some charges that were being claimed by the plaintiff. As the crane developed trouble soon after its delivery and throughout the guarantee period, the defendant complained that was not suitable for the purpose for which it was bought and was not therefore of merchantable quality.
The defendant made the following counterclaim in its amended statement of defence- “11. Whereof the Defendants Counterclaim – (1) For the sum of Fifty four thousand, six hundred and seventy six Naira, twenty five kobo (N54,676.25) as special damages. (2) General damages at the rate of N2,000.00 per month from the 9th of July, 1975 till date of judgment or replacement by new crane. (3) Replacement of the faulty crane by a new one or in the alternative refund of N66,443.33 already paid to the plaintiffs by the Defendants for the faulty crane.”
The learned trial Judge relying on the evidence before him and the provisions of section 14 subsections (2) and (3) of the English Sale of Goods Act, 1893 found that the crane was not merchantable and made order in the following term:
“On the counter-claim I make the following awards in favour of the defendants and I so order: (i) N54,676.25 being special damages for the cost mitigation of liability. (ii) N2,000.00 per month from 20th September, 1976 until today being loss of profit. (iii) That a person agreed to by both parties shall be appointed to ascertain the value of the Koehring T. 788 Crane now lying in the Defendants Company’s site at Port Harcourt and the difference between the amount so valued and the cost price which is N95,100.00 shall be the normal damages awarded. On this exercise, both parties, should bear the costs.”
From this decision both the plaintiff and the defendant appealed to the court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal considered the defendant’s Counterclaim to be well founded and awarded damages in defendant’s favour.
Both the Plaintiff (as Appellant) and Defendant (as Respondent) have appealed to the Supreme Court.
1. Whether the Court of Appeal was right in dismissing the Appellants (plaintiff) appeal and confirming the award of N54,676.25 made to the Respondents (defendant).
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. The circumstance in this case is not any different from the one in Falobi’s case. The awards made to the defendant by the Court of Appeal concerned the refund of the part-price paid by the defendant in repairing the crane and the special damages suffered by the defendant in repairing the Khoeing crane and hiring another crane in order to execute its contract with a third party. I am therefore satisfied that the plaintiff’s appeal has no merit and it deserved to be dismissed.
S. 15(b), 53, 54, of the Sale of goods law, Cap.125 of the Laws of Lagos State, 1973;
⦿ SOME PROVISION(S)
⦿ RELEVANT CASE(S)
Joseph Falobi v. Elizabeth Falobi, (1976) N.M.L.R. 169 at p. 177; (1976) 9 S.C. 1 at p.13; this Court (per Fatayi-Williams, J.S.C., as he then was) held as follows- “The next question is this. Can a court make an order under the Infants Law notwithstanding the fact that the application to it was made under another statute (i.e. English Statute) which is clearly inapplicable? In our view, if a relief or remedy is provided for by any written law (or by common law or in equity for that matter), that relief or remedy, if properly claimed by the party seeking it, cannot be denied to the applicant simply because he has applied for it under the wrong law. To do so would be patently unjust.”
⦿ CASE(S) RELATED
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
The question whether or not the crane was of merchantable quality is a question of fact. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeal had found that the crane was not of merchantable quality. The plaintiff has not shown sufficient reason why this Court should interfere with the concurrent findings. It follows therefore that the crane was not of merchantable quality. – Uwais, JSC. Henry v. Home (1987)
It is not permissible to apply foreign law which has been supplanted by local law in any State in Nigeria. – Obaseki, JSC. Henry v. Home (1987)