August 1, 2013

Court awards N35m against Bank for breach of contract

By Onozure Dania

A Lagos High Court, sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square Court Complex, has ordered Union Bank of Nigeria Plc to pay the sum of US$ 217,381.05 or its naira equivalent at the current exchange rate to one of it customers, Prince Nwokocha Ezikpe and his company Felimex Nigeria Limited, being the total sum of money debited from the claimant’s account by the bank and was  not remitted to their foreign business partners.

The court presided over by Justice Morenike Obadina, in its judgment, in Suit No LD/1092/2008, the court held that the claimants had established their entitlement to the reliefs sought as the funds which were debited from their account with the Union Bank, meant for remittance to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and on to their foreign partners, were not remitted.

The money was supposed to be payments for the series of transactions between the claimants and their foreign business partners.

In addition to the payment of the aforementioned sum by the bank to the claimants, the court also awarded the sum of N3 million as general damages against Union Bank for breach of contract.

Furthermore, the court held that the claimants are entitled to the statutory post judgment interest and was therefore awarded 10 per cent interest on the judgment sum from the date of the judgment until the entire sum is liquidated.

However, the court refused the claimants’ claim for pre-judgment interest at the rate of 19 percent per annum from May 1982 until final liquidation of the debt on the ground adding that the claim was not pleaded neither was there evidence  in support of the claim.

Reviewing the arguments and submissions of counsel to the parties, Justice Obadina held that Union Bank did not supply any documentary proof from its own record on the remittance of the funds to the Central Bank of Nigeria .