INTEGRATION (NIGERIA) LIMITED VS. ZUMAFON (NIGERIA) LIMITED ([node:field-casenumber]) [2014] 1 (17 January 2014);

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  • INTEGRATION (NIGERIA) LIMITED VS. ZUMAFON (NIGERIA) LIMITED ([node:field-casenumber]) [2014] 1 (17 January 2014);

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AREAS OF LAW-LAW OF CONTRACT, INJUNCTION, STAY OF EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

 The Plaintiff/Respondent brought an action against the Defendant/Appellant at the trial court seeking for specific performance of the contract between the Plaintiff and the Defendant, an order of perpetual Injunction, loss of profit, and general damages for breach of contract. Judgment was entered in favour of the Plaintiff /Respondent and the sum of (N8, 000,000.000) (Eight Million Naira) was awarded as general damages. The Defendant appealed to the lower court and also filed a motion for stay of execution which was granted but the Defendant being not satisfied with the terms of the stay of execution order, appealed to the Court of Appeal, Enugu division to have the stay of execution reversed. The application was refused by the court hence this appeal to the Supreme Court.

 HELD:                                                                              

Appeal dismissed

ISSUES:

Whether the Court of Appeal acted judiciously and judicially by refusing to interfere with the discretion of the lower court exercised in favour of the appellant

 RATIOS:

STAY OF EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT-MEANING OF STAY OF EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT

“What is it to stay execution of a judgment? This is the postponement, halting or suspension of judgment of a court.” PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C

APPLICATION FOR STAY OF EXECUTION- CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE COURT WILL EXERCISE ITS DISCRETION TO GRANT STAY OF EXECUTION OF A JUDGMENT ALREADY DELIVERED

“Again to be said in line with the decision of the Supreme Court in Utilgas Nigeria & Overseas Co. Ltd v Pan African Bank Ltd (1974) NSCC 393, is that though the courts including the Apex Court have a wide discretion in granting or refusing an application for stay of execution of a judgment already delivered but such discretion should be exercised judiciously and it would be so exercised where it is demonstrated that the appeal involves substantial point or points of law necessitating that the parties and matters be kept in status quo until the legal issues are resolved.” PER PETER-ODILI, J.S.C

APPLICATION FOR STAY OF EXECUTION-WHAT AN APPLICANT IS EXPECTED TO SHOW IN ORDER TO OBTAIN A STAY OF EXECUTION OF JUDGMENT

“Ordinarily, for an unsuccessful litigant to succeed in an application for stay of execution of judgment, he must show clearly that there exist special or exceptional circumstances showing the balance of justice in his favour.” PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C

INTERFERENCE WITH THE EXERCISE OF DISCRETION-INSTANCES WHERE AN APPELLANT COURT WILL INTERFERE WITH EXERCISE OF JUDICIAL DISCRETION OF THE TRIAL COURT

“It is now basic that this court will only interfere with the exercise of discretion of the lower court which affirmed that of the trial court where same is manifestly wrong, arbitrary, reckless and injudicious”. PER FABIYI, J.S.C

STAY OF EXECUTION- PRINCIPLE GUIDING THE ORDERING OF A STAY OF A JUDGMENT OF COURT

“The guides are well stated in the oft quoted decision of this court in Vaswani Trading Company v. Savalakh & Company(1972) NSCC 692 at 695 per Coker JSC and they are as follows: “When it is stated that the circumstances or conditions for granting a stay should be special or strong we take it as involving a consideration of some collateral circumstances and perhaps in some cases inherent matters which may unless the order for stay is granted destroy the subject -matter of the proceedings or foist upon the court especially the court of appeal a situation of complete helplessness or render nugatory any order or orders of the Court of Appeal or paralyse, in one way or the order, the exercise by the litigant of his constitutional right of appeal or generally provide a situation in which whatever happens to the case, and in particular even if the appellant succeeds in the Court of Appeal, there could be no return to the status quo.” PER PETER-ODILI, J.S.C

 STAY OF EXECUTION-WHAT NEEDS TO BE PREDICATED BY A PARTY TO OBTAIN A STAY OF EXECUTION OF A JUDGMENT AGAINST A SUCCESFUL ADVERSARY

“It must not be lost sight of in all these that at the root of it all is the basic fact that a party to obtain a stay of execution of a judgment against a successful adversary must show substantial reasons to justify the denial of that successful party of the fruit of his judgment by the court. To state the above differently is to emphasie that a judgment that is executory should have no hindrance from the delivery of the judgment to the effecting of the order or orders of court emanating therefrom. A basic rule and sacrosanct and so to restrain the immediate execution of that judgment some special circumstances or unique occurrence must exist to hold back the hand of the court. See Balogun v. Balogun (1969) ALL NLR 341. The principles above recanted situated in the present circumstances of this case throw up the fact that what is being called up right here and now is the exercise of the discretion of the trial High Court endorsed by the court of appeal which translates to a concurrent decision of the two courts below. In this regard is a reiteration of the fact that this court in its appellate jurisdiction will rarely interfere with the exercise of its discretion by the lower courts. It can only be done where such an exercise is based on extraneous issues or where the exercise of such discretion is not bona fide.” PER PETER-ODILI, J.S.C

STAY OF EXECUTION-WHAT A COURT SHOULD TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION BEFORE GRANTING AN APPLICATION OF STAY OF EXECUTION

“It is settled law that a stay of execution of a judgment will only be granted by the court, if it is satisfied that there are special or exceptional circumstances to warrant doing so. The reason being that the law is that a judgment of a court of law is presumed to be correct and rightly given until the contrary is proved or established. The courts have refused to make it a practice of depriving a successful litigant of the fruits of his success in court.” PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C

STAY OF EXECUTION-DISCRETIONARY POWER OF THE COURT A STAY OF EXECUTION  

“It is however trite law that the grant or refusal of stay of execution of judgment by the court   is purely discretionary, though the discretion must be exercised both judicially and judiciously but certainly not arbitrarily.” PER ARIWOOLA, J.S.C

 STAY OF EXECUTION- WHEN WILL AN APPEAL FROM A DECISION MADE IN THE EXERCISE OF A TRIAL JUDGE’S DECISION BE ALLOWED

“An appeal from a decision made in the exercise of a trial judge’s discretion is to be allowed when, in exercising his discretion the trial judge has acted under a mistake of Law, or in disregard of principle or under a misapprehension of the facts has taken into account irrelevant matters or on the ground that injustice could arise.” MUHAMMAD, J.S.C