Another Big win for PUC as N40m damages erroneously awarded set aside in favour of United Bank for Africa (UBA) at the Court of Appeal

“The erroneous award of N40,000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira) as general damages to the respondent is hereby set aside”

With the illuminating proclamation above, the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division once again reaffirmed our Firm, Paul Usoro & Co (“PUC”)’s pride of place as one of the most successful litigation firms in the country.

By way of background, PUC successfully represented United Bank for Africa (“the Bank”) at the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division after a keenly contested legal battle in Appeal No: CA/C/199/2016 United Bank for Africa Plc v. Midas Sandra Nigeria Limited. In the Judgment delivered on 28 October 2020, the Court of Appeal was enamoured with all our submissions and categorically set aside the N40,000,000 (Forty Million Naira) general damages awarded against the Bank by the High Court of Akwa Ibom State.

The Respondent who was the Plaintiff at the High Court had claimed against the Bank, amongst other reliefs, over One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira Damages on the basis that the Bank was liable in the tort of negligence in its handling of the Respondent’s account with the Bank and that this purported negligence led to the Respondent’s loss of a key Distributorship Agreement with Unilever Plc. The High Court delivered its judgement on 22 June 2016 and awarded N40 Million as General Damages against the Bank in circumstances where there was no evidence before it to support the claim for Special Damages and the totality of the Respondent’s Claim.

Having lost at the High Court, the Bank debriefed its erstwhile Counsel, briefed and activated PUC to challenge the Judgment at the Court of Appeal. PUC, immediately went on the offensive and filed the necessary Appeal processes to overturn what we considered to be a perverse judgment based on the facts.  In the Appellant’s Brief of Arguments, PUC amongst other points had contended that the general damages awarded in favour of the Respondent was based on incorrect variables and highly speculative as there was no evidence at all presented to the Trial Court to support the Respondent’s claims. In presenting our arguments, we also drew the Court of Appeal’s attention to the fact that the Trial Court having discovered that the Respondent had failed to plead facts and prove the special damages claimed compensated the Respondent by granting its claim for general damages contrary to the immutable principle of law that general damages cannot be granted in substitution for special damages where a plaintiff has failed to specifically plead and prove special damages. PUC also faulted the Judgment on the ground that the Trial Judge had premised its assessment of general damages on unpleaded and/or unproven facts and given that the Respondent failed to prove that the Bank was responsible for the termination of the Distributorship Agreement, it was wrong to have awarded any form of Damages at all.

It was on these premises that the Court of Appeal adopted and wholly agreed with PUC’s arguments on the issue of the wrongful award of general damages and proceeded to set aside the N40 Million Damages awarded by the High Court.

With this victory, PUC continues to assert itself as a law firm per excellence and as the go-to law firm for both dispute resolution and transaction assignments and further demonstrates the Firm’s prowess and internationally acclaimed reputation for handling and resolving very complex legal matters in favour of Clients.

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