⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Panalpina World Transport (Nigeria) Limited v. N. T. Wariboko (1975) – SC
⦿ LITE HOLDING
When goods are unconditionally given to a person for delivery and such goods later is unable to be seen, a prima facie case of negligence exists against such person.
⦿AREA OF LAW
Panalpina World Transport (Nigeria) Limited
N. T. Wariboko
(1975) All N.L.R. 24
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
* FOR THE APPELLANT
– Mr A.A. Odunsi.
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
This is an appeal from the decision of the Port Harcourt High Court delivered by Wai-Ogosu, J., on 3rd November, 1972 in which he awarded judgment in favour of the plaintiff.
The particulars of claim are as follows:- “The plaintiff’s claim as against the defendants is for the recovery of a total sum of £1,053.8.7d (one thousand and fifty-three pounds eight shillings and seven pence) being the value of 4 Packages of Personal Effects which the defendants at Port Harcourt on or about the 23rd of December, 1969, agreed to carry at Zaria and deliver to the plaintiff at Port Harcourt, but which were negligently lost by the “defendants, and the sum of £21. 12/being the cost of carriage of the said Packages paid by the plaintiff to the defendants for a consideration which has totally failed.”
Pleadings were ordered and filed.
In conclusion, the learned trial Judge entered the following judgment against the defendants:- “On all the facts and the law considered as can be seen above, I am satisfied that the plaintiff has made a case of damage for negligence against the defendants. I am convinced that the defendants did not exercise the degree of care required of them as a reputable firm. I therefore award damage against them as follows: (a) £21.12/for cost of transportation paid by plaintiff to them and (b) £750 (seven hundred and fifty pounds) for the missing goods.”
It is from this decision of the learned trial Judge that the defendants have brought this appeal to the Supreme Court.
(1) The learned trial Judge erred in law in holding that the packages were negligently lost when in fact no particular act of negligence was pleaded or alleged.
(2) The learned trial Judge misdirected himself in law in awarding £750 as general damages when in fact the amount claimed is on specific items and such items ought to have been strictly proved as special damages.
⦿ RESOLUTION OF GROUNDS
[APPEAL: DISMISSED, WITH N135 COST AGAINST THE APPELLANT]
1. GROUND 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. In the first place, the appellants, who were the defendants in the court below, led no evidence whatsoever as to what reasonable step, if any, which they had taken so as to protect the goods entrusted to their care. They had not accounted for the loss of the goods, nor had they shown to the satisfaction of the court that they were not negligent. Moreover, the appellants in the court below did not seek to bring in either the Ports Authority or the Nigerian National Shipping Line as a third party to the proceedings, in view of the peculiar nature of the defence that was set up by them. We consider that the mere fact that the defendants/appellants failed to deliver to the plaintiff the goods which they had undertaken to transport to Port Harcourt is prima facie evidence of negligence; and as the onus of disproving negligence rested on them, we cannot but agree with the learned trial Judge that that onus was never discharged.
2. GROUND 2 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. We also of the opinion that ground 2 of the Grounds of Appeal lacks substance. In any case, the complaint made under this particular ground could not be sustained in view of the fact that the lost goods together with their prices, were indeed fully itemised in the Statement of Claim.
⦿ SOME PROVISION(S)
⦿ RELEVANT CASE(S)
In the case of Chief D.O. Ogugua v. Armels Transport Limited (1974) 3 S. D. 139 at 144 where this Court considered the issue as to the burden of proof of negligence in cases of bailment, the law was stated as follows: “Dealing with the first point first, we think that there was no need on the part of the plaintiff in this case to plead negligence specifically. Once it is admitted by the parties (as was the case here) that the car was delivered to the defendants and that they failed to return it to the owner, we think that the onus was on them to deliver the car to the plaintiff or satisfy the court that its loss was not due to their carelessness. It is settled law that, in bailment, the onus of proving that there is no negligence is on the bailee. [See Phipson on evidence (eleventh edition) page 93, para. 94.] In other words, provided that the claim is properly worded, the onus of proof is always on the bailee to show that the loss of, or damage to, the goods entrusted to him occurred without negligence or default on his part.”
⦿ CASE(S) RELATED
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA