⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
JA Obanor & Co Limited v. Cooperative Bank Limited  – SC
by NSA PaulPipAr
⦿ LITE HOLDING
⦿AREA OF LAW
JA Obanor & Co Limited
Cooperative Bank Limited
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
In this appeal, the appellant, J.A. Obanor and Co Limited, as plaintiff at the Benin City High Court, filed an action claiming several declarations and an injunction against the respondent. In response, the respondent as the defendant before the trial High Court denied all the claims and filed a counter-claim against the appellant.
The plaintiff’s claim as per its amended Statement of Claim is as follows, inter alia:- “a) A declaration that the said Mr J.A. Obanor ceased to be a Director of the plaintiff’s company as from 14 July, 1976, and as such is incompetent to create any obligation for and on behalf of the plaintiff’s company with the defendant or any other company. b) A declaration that the plaintiff company limited in liability as a corporate body is not competent to enter into and could not enter into any contract transaction beyond its normal share capital with the defendant company.
The respondent, in a counter-claim, filed together with the statement of defence, prayed for an order of the trial High Court for the sale of the lands and buildings specified as per the particulars, set forth hereto, and all of which (properties) covered by legal mortgage dated 19 August, 1969 and registered at No 10 at page 10 in Volume 69; by legal mortgage dated 20 May, 1977 and registered as No 9 at page 9 in Volume 425, and by legal mortgage dated 26 July, 1974 and registered as No 34 at page 34 in volume 228 and No 14 at page 14 in Volume 425 upstamped to cover N250,000, in order to harmonise excesses in the authorised overdraft.
At the close of the hearing, the learned trial Judge, in a considered judgment, dismissed the claims of the appellant and gave judgment to the respondent in respect of the counter-claim. Being dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court, the appellant went on appeal before the Court of Appeal. There again the appellant was not successful. The appeal was dismissed.
Aggrieved by the said decision, the company, with the leave of this Court, filed this appeal and supported it with ten grounds of appeal.
1. Whether the Supreme Court can interfere with the two concurrent findings of facts by the trial court and the Court of Appeal.
2. Whether appellant did not benefit from the loan of N250,000 from respondent’s bank.
3. Having regard to the totality of the evidence and the finding of facts, was the Court of Appeal right in dismissing appellant’s appeal?
⦿ RESOLUTION OF ISSUE(S)
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT BUT AGAINST THE APPELLANT.
i. It is plain from the pleadings and evidence adduced that the case of the appellant hinged on the acceptance of the submission that J.A. Obanor was mentally unsound when he negotiated and signed Exhibit B’. However, since the two lower courts have both rejected the contention of the appellant, that J.A. Obanor was insane when he negotiated with the respondent and signed Exhibit B’, can I disturb such concurrent findings? I do not want to repeat what is the established practice, that this Court will not interfere with concurrent findings of fact of two courts below unless a miscarriage of justice or a perverse decision or improper exercise of judicial discretion has been established in the lower courts’ judgment: Okechukwu Adimora v Nnanyelugo Ajufo & 2 others (1988) 1 NS CC 1005; Enang v Adu (1981) 11-12 SC 25 at 42 and Alade v Alemuloke (1988) 1 NWLR 207 at 212. An appellate court can also interfere with findings of fact by the lower court when there has been some violation of some principles of law or procedure: Ntiaro v Akpan (1914-22) 3NLR 9 at page 10. Now, was there anything categorically established by the appellant’s Counsel in respect of this issue showing any of the decisions of the two lower courts, in this appeal, falling within the exception to the general rule which would invite the interference of this Court? The answer is definitely in the negative. The appeal, in respect of this issue, has therefore failed.
2. ISSUE 2 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. It is clear that the wording of Exhibit R1′ is indicative of the fact that the appellant was aware of the loan of N250,000 and that the amount had been used in the running of the business of the appellant company. For the above reasons, even if the respondent had the knowledge (which has not been proved) that Mr J.A. Obanor had been removed as a director, under the rule enunciated in the case of Royal British Bank v. Turguand (1843-1860) AER Rep 435 at 437 to 438, the appellant would still be liable for the amount advanced to the company.
I do not see how the appellant can run away from the liability of a loan advanced to the company, paid into the company’s account and used by the company to run its business. The argument made in respect of issue 2 is also not helpful to the appellant.
3. ISSUE 3 FAILED.
⦿ SOME PROVISION(S)
⦿ RELEVANT CASE(S)
In Trenco (Nigeria) Limited v African Real Estate and Investment Co Ltd & another (1978) 4 SC 9, this Court referred to the case of Montaignac v Shitta (1890) 15 App Cases 357, where it was decided that where an agent, under power of attorney, possessed implied authority to raise money by loan for the purpose of carrying on the business affairs entrusted to him, which authority under circumstances of emergency must be deemed to include power to borrow in exceptional terms outside the ordinary course of business, the lender was not bound to inquire whether in the particular case the emergency had arisen or not, and that he was entitled to recover from the principal if he lent to the agent bona fide and without notice that the agent was exceeding his mandate.
⦿ CASE(S) RELATED
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
It is elementary to write about the relationship of equity and common law. It is plain, however, to say that the characteristic common to all equitable remedies and which distinguishes them from common law remedies is their discretionary nature. Courts in this country can have resort to equitable principles and establish a remedy where strict adherence to common law rules would cause injustice and hardship to parties. – Mohammed, JSC. OBANOR v. COOPERATIVE