The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has set aside a Lagos State High Court judgement which held Zenith Bank liable to pay Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited N872,780,522.84 as advance payment guarantee.
A three-man panel of the court led by Justice Muhammed Sirajo in an Appeal marked: CA/LAG/ CV/262/2022 – Zenith Bank Plc v Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Gombe State, upturned the lower court decision of Justice O. O. Abike- Fadipe. Justice Abike-Fadipe had on March 8, 2022, held that the bank was liable of breach of contract because it refused Real Integrated to draw from its Account No. 1012465427 on October 7, 2011.
The court also directed the bank to pay interest of 15 percent per annum on the N872,780,522.84 from May 17, 2011, when the advanced payment guarantees expired till judgement and thereafter at the rate of 10 percent per annum until final liquidation. It further awarded N2,500,000 as cost of the action in favour of Real Integrated.
But Zenith Bank challenged the decision through its team of lawyers led by Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN). In the appeal, the bank sought an order setting aside the lower court’s decision on the ground that it acted in full compliance with its contractual obligations in line with the Advanced Payment Guarantee (APG) contract and that the trial court was wrong.
Responding, the 1st respondent, through its lawyer, E.O Jakpa, argued that the bank breached the contract while SUBEB Gombe State did not contest the Appeal. However, in a unanimous decision, the Appellate Court agreed with the bank’s submissions and resolved all issues raised in its favour.
The appellate court also set aside the judgement of Justice Abike-Fadipe and awarded cost of N200,000 against Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited and in favour of the Zenith Bank.
The Appellate Court held that the trial court was wrong to have presumed that the bank withheld the full account statement of Real Integrated in the light of Exhibit C6 (the comprehensive Statement of Account of Real Integrated) which was tendered by the bank for a limited purpose, adding that there was no need for the lower court to have invoked Section 167 (d) of the Evidence Act, 2011 against the bank.