The Federal Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, has upheld the judgement of the Oyo State High Court and ordered the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc to pay the sum of N2, 716, 555. 17 as general damages to a customer of the bank, Siegner Sabithos Nigeria Limited over negligence and breach of banker and customer relationship.
The court, in a judgement delivered by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani on Friday, dismissed the appeal filed by the bank and averred that the lower court had the right to award both special and general damages to the appellant for breach of contract.
It ruled that the UBA should pay Siegner Sabithos a sum of N2, 716, 555, 17k as general damages suffered by the respondent’s foreign business and goodwill.
“An order directing the appellant, United Bank for Africa PLC, to pay to the respondent the sum of N2, 716, 555.17k being general damages suffered by the respondent as a result of the negligence handling of the respondent’s foreign business and bank account resulting into loss of business, contract and goodwill with foreign and local business partners and beneficiaries”.
The plaintiff had dragged Dugbe branch of United Bank for Africa before the court on the account of negligence and a breach of the banker and customer relationship.
The bank failed to remit £10, 673 to the City of London College, London for the payment of school fees of seven of the plaintiff’s students until 17 days after the amount has been deducted from the Siegner Sabithos Nigeria Limited’s account.
This was contained in a writ of summon as claimed by the statement of claim:
“Declaration that the defendant’s unilateral withdrawal of sum of N1, 664, 988. 00m from the plaintiff’s account on 14th August, 2009 and the eventual crediting of the said account with the same amount on the same day.
“Declaration that the delay by the defendant in remitting the sum of £10, 673 to the City of London College for the payment of school fees of seven of its students until 17 clear days after the said amount was deducted from the plaintiff’s account.”
But, the bank, in its arguments, explained that transaction between it and the respondent was to be executed as quickly as possible, but the delay in remitting the money to the beneficiary was as a result of procedural and administrative constraints which must be observed as required by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
It also explained that the delay in transferring the funds was further caused by the change of name of the Chief Executive Officer of the Siegener Sabithos Nigeria Limited.
The Court of Appeal however, on Friday, dismissed the appeal for lack of merit and ordered the bank to pay the damages.
The court also over-ruled the preliminary objection of the appellant and awarded N216, 555. 17 as exchange rate between transaction period of when the money was deducted from Siegener’s account and remitted to the City of London College, and N2, 716, 555. 17 as general damages against the bank.