Nigerian cases on Misrepresentation
Below are rationes on Misrepresentation from Nigerian Cases. Misrepresentation is the act of making a false or misleading statement about something, usually with the intent to deceive.
Meaning of Misrepresentation
ABBA v. ABBA AJI & ORS (2022) LPELR-56592(SC)
“The Court below had alluded to a misrepresentation of facts and the definition of misrepresentation would be of assistance here that is from Black’s Law Dictionary 9th Edition at page 1091 thus: “The act of making a false or misleading assertion about something usually with the intent to deceive, the words denotes not just written or spoken words but also any other conducts that amounts to a false assertion. (2) The assertion so made; an assertion that does not accord with the facts – also termed false representation …”
“Going by the above definition, a person is said to make a misrepresentation, if he makes an assertion which is false or misleading about something. In the case of AFEGBAI V. A.G. EDO STATE (2001) 7 SCNJ PAGE 438 AT 447, this Court held that whether there is misrepresentation, it is a question of fact and that misrepresentation can be proved in the following manner:- “First, the representation must be a statement of existing fact.
“Secondly, the representation must be material and unambiguous. Thirdly, the representee must show that he has acted in reliance on the misrepresentation.” – Per MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI, JSC
Durowaiye v. U.B.N. Plc (2015) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1484) 19
misrepresentation is the act of making a false or misleading statement about something, with the intent to deceive. The statement so made is an assertion which does not accord with facts.
ALHAJI FATAI ADEKUNLE TERIBA v. WALE ADEYEMO (2010) LCN/3803(SC)
“To constitute a misrepresentation, the misrepresentor and the misrepresentee must be distinct from one another. Thus, where a person who claims to have been deceived by a misrepresentation is in effect the same as the person who is alleged to have made it, then there is no misrepresentation in law. On this point see the English Case of ESSO PETROLEUM CO. LTD vs MAROON (1976) 2 ALL E.R.5. and Halsbury’s Laws of England Fourth Edition Vol. 31 Paragraph 703 at Page 443.” – Per FRANCIS FEDODE TABAI, JSC
Types of Misrepresentation
Mohammed v. Mohammed (2012) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1310) 1
There are various species of misrepresentation. Each type gives rise to different remedies. Fraudulent misrepresentation can entitle the representee to rescind the contract while other types of misrepresentation merely give rise to an action for damages. In the instant case, the 1 st respondent relied on fraudulent misrepresentation to rescind the whole agreement in exhibit “MM2”. (P. 36, paras. E-F)8.On Nature of agreement which formalises intention to convey title to land.
An agreement which merely formalises a proposed intention of the parties to devise title in respect of landed property has no more legal significance than an agreement to purchase land which is different from a conveyance or a deed of assignment.
Such an agreement is a registrable instrument which can be tendered to prove the terms of the oral agreement between the parties or as a receipt to prove payment and equitable interest. In the instantcase, exhibit “MM2” was not an instrument of land transfer or an instrument intended to convey title to land.
Burden of Prove in Misrepresentation
OLAOGUN & ORS v. BENSON (2021) LPELR-56210(CA)
“In law, to prove misrepresentation, the party so alleging must plead and prove the following elements constituting fraudulent misrepresentation, namely the representation must be a statement of existing facts, the representation must be material and unambiguous, and the representee must show that he has acted in reliance on the misrepresentation.
“The burden of alleging and proving that degree of falsity which is required for the representation to be a misrepresentation rests, in every case, on the party who sets it up. See Afegbai vs. AG., Edo State (2001) LPELR – 193 (SC). – Per MUHAMMAD IBRAHIM SIRAJO, JCA
Effect of Misrepresentation on a Transaction
Udogwu v. Oki (1990) 5 NWLR (Pt. 153) 721
The effect of misrepresentation on a transaction is that it entitles the injured person to avoid the transaction induced by the misrepresentation for example, in the case of a contract, to have it rescinded or to recover damages for the injury. It also gives rise to a defence to any action brought by the fraudulent party to enforce the contract or other transaction, but it does not make it void ab initio.
Misrepresentation being of no effect
FHOMO NIGERIA LIMITED v. ZENITH BANK PLC (2016)LCN/9238(CA)
Misrepresentation is simply the act of making a misleading assertion about something, it is therefore a false assertion. In an action alleging misrepresentation, the law requires the Appellant to prove that the Respondent made a false statement knowing it to be false, or reckless. In the absence of required evidence in proof of fraud or misrepresentation, parties are bound by the terms of the contract, see ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF NASARAWA STATE v. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF PLATEAU STATE (2012) LPELR-9730 (SC) where the Court held thus:
“Parties are bound by their contracts and it is not the duty of the Court to rewrite contracts for the parties. In the absence of fraud or misrepresentation the parties are bound by its terms.”
See also EGBASE v. ORIARGHAN (1985) NWLR (Pt. 10) 884 where the apex Court held:
“Whenever a man of full age and understanding who can read and write signs a legal document which is put before him for signature by which I mean a document which, it is apparent on the face of it, is intended to have legal consequences – then, if he does not take the trouble to read it, but signs it as it is, relying on the word of another as its character or content or effect, he cannot be heard to say that it is not his document.
By his conduct in signing it he has represented to all those whose hands it may come, that it is his document; once they act upon it as being his documents he cannot go back on it, and say it was a nullity from the beginning.” – PER YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR, J.C.A.