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Home » Court Holdings » Nigerian cases on Condition Precedent (Rationes)

Nigerian cases on Condition Precedent (Rationes)

Nigerian cases on condition precedent

Nigerian cases on Condition Precedent

condition precedent is one which delays the vesting of a right until the happening of an event. Below are rationes decidendi on Condition precedent from Nigerian cases.

Meaning of condition Precedent

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA V. HON. JUSTICE HYELADZIRA AJIYA NGANJIWA (2022) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1860) 407 – Supreme Court

A condition precedent is an additional formality super-imposed on the law. A condition precedent is one which delays the vesting of a right until the happening of an event.

In the instant case, a condition precedent for the criminal prosecution of the respondent was not followed by the appellant to imbue it with power and give the trial court the jurisdiction to prosecute the respondent. 

ATOLAGBE & ANOR V. AWUNI & ORS (1997) LLJR-SC

Both “condition” and “condition precedent” have been defined by Osborn’s Concise Law Dictionary, 7th Edition as follows:-

“Condition” – a provision which makes the existence of a right dependent on the happening of an event; the right is then conditional as opposed to an absolute right. A true condition is where the event on which the existence of the right depends is future and uncertain.” “A condition precedent” is one which delays the vesting of a right until the happening of an event.”

Use and Effect of the word ‘condition’ in contract

FGN & ORS v. ZEBRA ENERGY LTD (2002) LPELR-3172(SC)

“In Skips A/S Nordheim v. Syrian Petroleum Co. Ltd. (The Varenna) (1984) QB 599, 618 condition was described as “a chameleon like word which takes its meaning from its surroundings”.

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Read in the context in which the word was used, “condition” was used in a non-technical sense to mean a term. That the word “condition” in a contract may be used in a technical or non-technical sense is illustrated by the case of Schuler A. G. v. Wickman Ltd. AC (1974) 235. In that case it was a “condition” of a four year distributorship agreement that the distributor should visit six named customers once a week.

The House of Lords held that the contract could not be rescinded merely because this term had been broken. It was said that the parties could not have intended the agreement to mean that a failure to make only one of an obligatory total of some 1,400 visits should have such drastic results, and that more probably they have used “condition” in a non-technical sense to mean simply a term (as in the phrase “conditions of sale”).

In Alfotrin v Attorney-General of the Federation (1996) 9 NWLR (Pt. 476) 634 at 656 – 7 the court used “condition” and “term” interchangeably. I hold that, read in context, the word “condition” used in the letter of offer was used in a non-technical sense to mean the terms of the contract.”

Effect of a Condition Precedent incorporated into an Agreement

TSOKWA OIL MARKETING CO. (NIG) LTD v. BANK OF THE NORTH LTD (2002) LLJR-SC

“It is trite law that once a condition precedent is incorporated into an agreement, that condition precedent must be fulfilled before the effect can flow. All conditions are (a) conditions precedent i.e. the sine qua non to getting the thing; or conditions subsequent, which keep and continue the thing (ibid).

As to when conditions are precedent or subsequent, see 30 Law Journal 686; Porter v. Shephard 6 T.B. 665, Cooper v. London, Brighton & Southern Railway 4 Ex. D88; Barnard v. Faber (1893) 1 Q.B.340, cited WARRANTY; Horrigan v. Horrigan (1904) 1 Ir. R.22, 271 (Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary Vol. 1 A – C page 538).

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See also the case of Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry v. Integrated Gas (Nig.) Ltd. (1999) 8 NWLR (Pt.613) 119 at 127 G-H wherein Aderemi, J.C.A. held as follows: “By exhibits F and G, the parties have entered into what, in law, is a conditional contract, the condition precedent must happen before either party becomes bound by the contract. A condition must be fulfilled before the effect can follow.”

Effect of non-compliance with condition precedent

A.G & COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE, EDO STATE & ORS v. AGBONLAHOR (2022) LPELR-58257(CA)

Giving flesh to this provision, learned counsel for the respondent cited and relied on the statement of Ogunbiyi, JSC in the case of Yaki & Ors v. Bagudu & Ors (2015) vol. 249, LRCN P.1 at P.28 Ratio 29 that: “The general rule is, where condition precedent is mandatory for doing an act, the failure to fulfill that pre-condition will obviously render of non effect the doing of any act subsequent without first fulfilling the pre-condition.”

This case is no doubt appropriate to the facts in this appeal. This Court in the case of Wali & Ors. v. Ogiri & Ors. (2021) LPELR – 56272 (CA) held: “I wish to state that it is a settled principle of law, that where there exists a condition precedent to carry out a procedure, failure to fulfill the condition would mean that whatever, was done is a nullity.

BASIN DEV. AUTHORITY (2021) LPELR-56640(CA)

“What then is the effect of non-compliance with a condition precedent? The answer that readily comes to mind is that non-compliance by a person means not being legally empowered to institute an action before a Court of competent jurisdiction. Non-compliance will tantamount to not being legally empowered to institute an action.

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The law is settled that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse. See MACFOY VS U.A.C LTD (1962) 152, MADUKOLU VS NKEMDILIM (1962) 2 SCNLR 341 and OKANGI & ANOR V. FATOBA & ORS (2011) LPELR-8786(CA).”

Effect of Condition Precedent in Court Process

NIGERIAN COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION V. MOTOPHONE LTD. & ANOR (2019) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1691) 1 – Supreme Court

Once a legislation provides for a condition precedent before a court can exercise jurisdiction, the condition must be fulfilled subject to recognized exceptions. The suit would be incompetent if a court does not ensure that there is compliance with the condition precedent.

OKANGI V. FATOBA (2012) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1299) 266 – Court of Appeal

Non compliance with a condition precedent to instituting an action, means not being legally empowered to institute the action before a court of competent jurisdiction. In the instant case, the payment of N10,000 at the same time the necessary court processes were filed was a condition precedent to instituting the instant action and not a requirement as canvassed by counsel to the appellants.

It was a condition precedent before any person could successfully challenge such appointment. The appellants’ non-compliance with that condition precedent meant they were not legally empowered to institute the action.


See also:

Nigerian cases on Breach of Contract

Nigerian Cases on Extension of Time

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