⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Justice K. O. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited & Ors (2002)
Justice K. O. Anyah
1. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited
2. Stephen Agbanyuo
3. Longinus Nwarie
(2002) 12 S.C. (PART II) 77
⦿LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Umaru Atu Kalgo
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
FOR THE APPELLANT
– Chief Mike Ozekhome
FOR THE RESPONDENT
– K. C. O. Njemanze
On the 19th day of December, 1986, the appellant who lived at No. 34 Hospital Road, Amaekpu-Ohafia in Arochukwu/Ohafia Local Government of Imo State, came to Owerri to attend a book launching ceremony. He drove his car, a 505 Peugeot SR/AC Salon car registration No. IM 6583 AF, into the Concord Hotel (the 1st respondent) and booked accommodation for one night. At the gate of the Hotel, the 2nd and 3rd respondents, who were the hotel security men on duty on that day, registered the number of the appellant’s car and issued him with a plastic disc No. 102. Then they lifted the bar across the gate and the appellant drove his said car into the hotel and parked it in a parking space therein. He then locked the car, pocketed the keys and checked into the room allocated to him where he slept for the night. The following morning the appellant checked out of the hotel, went to pick his car where he kept it but the car was nowhere to be seen. He immediately reported the matter to the hotel management who expressed dismay at what had happened and immediately ordered investigation into the matter. They later provided a vehicle which conveyed the appellant to his home at Ohafia. Thereafter the appellant filed this action claiming a total of N150,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) for the value of his stolen car, expenses incurred by him as a result thereof and general damages, on the grounds that the respondents were negligent in allowing his car to be stolen on 20th December, 1986, in the hotel.
1. Was the Court of Appeal right in holding that the respondents did not owe the appellant a duty of care especially in the light of the facts of this case?
2. Was the Court of Appeal right in asserting that such duty of care could only be founded on contract?
3. Was the Appellant entitled to the award of special and general damages?
1. On Issue 1, the court gave judgement in favour of the respondents. It held, “there is no doubt that negligence is a specie of tort, and one man may owe a duty to another even though there is no contract between them. But a breach of contract may give rise to a proper action on negligence. In the instant case, there is no doubt that the loss of the appellant’s car cannot be attributed to any act of negligence on the respondents having regard to the way they performed their duties on the fateful day and the relationship of the parties as narrated earlier in this judgment, no duty of care can be ascribed to them. If to say the respondents left the gate unattended, and the car was driven out through the gate, there may prima facie be a duty of care to the appellant. This was not the case here.”
2. Issue 2 was answered in the negative.
3. Issue 3 was nullified since issue 1 was judged in favour of the respondents.
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
The general principle is that the tort of negligence arises when a legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff is breached. And to succeed in an action for negligence, the plaintiff must prove by the preponderance of evidence or the balance of probabilities that:
(a) the defendant owed him a duty of care,
(b) the duty of care was breached:
(c) the defendant suffered damages arising from the breach. – Umaru Atu Kalgo, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)
The most fundamental ingredient of the tort of negligence is the breach of the duty of care, which must be actionable in law and not a moral liability. And until a plaintiff can prove by evidence the actual breach of the legal duty of care against the defendant, the action must fail. – Umaru Atu Kalgo, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)
For the defendant to be liable for negligence, there must be either an admission by him or sufficient evidence adduced to support a finding of negligence on his part. Such evidence may be direct or inferential depending on the circumstances for each particular case. – Umaru Atu Kalgo, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)
It is not sufficient for a plaintiff to make a blanket allegation of negligence against a defendant in a claim on negligence without giving full particulars of the items of negligence relied on as well as the duty of care owed to him by the defendant. – Umaru Atu Kalgo, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)
In this case the appellant merely parked his car in the hotel park after he was allowed in and given the hotel disc. He locked his car and put the keys in his pocket; he did not show or inform the security men or any hotel staff where he parked his car and nothing was shown to be on the hotel disc as the conditions under which the car is parked in the hotel. So in this case, the fact that the appellant was given the hotel disc to enter and park in the hotel premises, and the hotel posted its security men and policemen in and around the hotel, only gave the impression that the appellant’s car would be protected from theft or damage but does not bind the respondents. – Umaru Atu Kalgo, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)
You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who then is your neighbour? The answer seems to be persons who are so closely and directly affected by my [sic] act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question. – Umaru Atu Kalgo, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)
The generally accepted principles of negligence is that a person owes a duty of care to his neighbour who would be directly affected by his act or omission. – Umaru Atu Kalgo, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)
Any matter pleaded, there must be evidence to support it, unless the other side admits that pleaded matter. Once a pleading is not admitted and evidence is not led to it that matter is deemed abandoned. – Belgore, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)
All that is necessary as a step to establish the tort of actionable negligence is to define the precise relationship from which the duty to take care is to be deduced. It is however, essential in English law that the duty should be established: the mere fact that a man is injured by another’s act gives in itself no cause for action. If the act is deliberate, the party injured will have no claim in law even though the injury is intentional, so long as the other party is merely exercising a legal right: if the act involves lack of due care, again no case of actionable negligence will arise unless the duty to be careful exists. – Akintola Olufemi Ejiwunmi, JSC. Anyah v. Imo Concorde Hotels Limited (2002)