⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
S.A.T. Taylor And Ors v. Kingsway Stores Of Nigeria Ltd & Anor. (1965) – SC
by PipAr Chima
⦿ LITE HOLDING
⦿AREA OF LAW
S.A.T. Taylor And Ors.
Kingsway Stores Of Nigeria Ltd & Anor.
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FINDING OF FACT
The plaintiffs’ grandfather devised the property by his will to be held first by his children in joint tenancy during their lives, and afterwards to be held in common tenancy by the eldest sons of his children; that is agreed by the parties, and what is said further in the devise is immaterial here. The grandfather died in 1912; two of his children died before him without issue, and another in 1920, also without issue; the remaining three other children survived into the year 1936 and beyond, and the last surviving child died on 14th February, 1961.
On the 1st December, 1936 a suit was begun in the Supreme Court of Nigeria for partition or sale of the property, then known as Manchester House; the plaintiffs were child (a), child (c), the 4th appellant and the 2nd appellant; the defendants were child (b) and the 3rd appellant, with the father appointed as guardian ad litem of his son. On the 2nd December counsel appeared before Butler Lloyd, acting Chief Justice, who by consent ordered the suit to be heard forthwith, and gave judgement by consent ordering as follows:
“The property is ordered to be sold by private treaty at a price not less than £10,000. Proceeds to be pail to Mr E. J. A. Taylor for distribution among the parties entitled.”
The statement of Claim alleges that, for certain reasons the proceedings in the 1936 suit were defective, the orders void, and the conveyance ineffectual; all of which the Defence denies. The Defence adds that ever since the time of the conveyance the 2nd respondents by themselves or through their tenants, the 1st respondents, have been in lawful and undisturbed possession, and have made developments at great expense to the knowledge of the appellants, who, however, made no objection but stood by, and are estopped by their conduct from relying on defect or want of jurisdiction in regard to the said proceedings; and also barred by laches and acquiescence from making their claim.
The Trial Court held the plaintiff to be barred by the equitable principle of laches.
⦿ CASE HISTORY
1. Whether the learned trial judge was right in upholding laches?
⦿ RESOLUTION OF ISSUE(S)
1. THE ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. As learned counsel for the respondents pointed out, the delay here is twenty five years, during which from time to time beginning with the year 1938, the respondents have spent vast sums of money on building and improving what are known as the Kingsway Stores, in the belief that they had the fee simple; the appellants knew of that belief as far back as 1938, but they gave no explanation at the trial on why they stood by during those twenty-five years. As to the bona fides of that belief, the appellants’ learned counsel had wished to argue on bad faith or knowledge on the respondents’ part of the defect in their title, but learned counsel for the respondents pointed out that bad faith or such knowledge was neither pleaded nor cross-examined upon at the trial, and it was not open to the appellants to speak about it on appeal.
⦿ ENDING NOTE BY LEAD JUSTICE – Per
⦿ REFERENCED (STATUTE)
⦿ REFERENCED (CASE)
⦿ REFERENCED (OTHERS)
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA