Breach of contract: Supreme Court orders Stanbic IBTC pay customer N2.5billion

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria has affirmed the judgment of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that ordered Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc to pay one of its customers, Patrick Akinkuotu and his company, Long Term Global Capital Ltd. the sum of N2.5billion as general damages for breach of contract.
The Federal High Court had earlier awarded the N2.5billion as damages against the bank.
Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, stated that the bank granted overdraft facility of N600million to Long Term Capital Ltd on 11 April 2007.The bank also granted two additional facilities of N400million and N250million to Patrick Akinkuotu on 11 May 2007 and 17 July 2007 respectively. The facilities were for a term of 365 days with an option of rollover amongst other terms.
Upon application by Akinkuotu, the facilities granted them were merged and same were secured with shares held by them in various companies. The bank, upon instruction received via e-mail sold 28,745,400 units of GTB PLC shares held by Akinkuotu and his company at the sum of N267,775,799.21.
The Plaintiffs became aggrieved and contended that the proceed of the shares sold by the bank was very low. They also contended that they have liquidated the overdraft facilities granted them by Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc. Consequently they sued the bank for breach of contract and claimed damages for loss of business opportunity.
Fagbohungbe argued that the case was that of gross negligence and unprofessionally selling the shares separately owned by Akinkuotu and his company at significantly lower and unauthorized prices whilst purportedly acting on Akinkuotu’s unsigned e-mail alone between him and the officer of the bank while ignoring entirely the specific terms of the sale mandate officially issued by his clients.
The trial court while entering judgment in the plaintiffs’ favour and awarded them N2.5billion damages said: “The law stipulates that court should discountenance an unsigned document as its contents cannot override a duly executed mandate in the circumstances.”
Dissatisfied, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc appealed the judgment. However, its case was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
Thereafter, the bank took its case to Supreme Court, the court after appraising the facts and submission of Chief Fagbohungbe appearing with Barrister Abayomi Adeniran on behalf of Akinkuotu and his company and O. Ayanlaja, SAN, appearing with Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, for Stanbic IBTC Plc ,in a judgment delivered by five panel members of judges dismissed the appeal of the bank for lacking in merit and awarded cost of N50,000 in favour of Akinkuotu and his company and against Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc.

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