Sahid Jaffa & Anor V. Thomas Elias (1953)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Tort—Negligence—Driver driving within scope of employment.
Appeals in civil cases—Test of intervention on damages.
The respondent sued the appellants for damages for negligence and was awarded an amount as general damages and another amount as special damages.
A lorry, driven by the second-named appellant and owned by the first, mounted the side walk and injured the respondent grievously: he was in hospital for months, his left leg had to be amputated, and his right leg was also injured.
In the defendants’ appeal it was urged (a) that the trial Judge erred in holding that the driver was at the time of the accident acting within the scope of his employment, and (b) that the general damages were excessive.
On (a): The driver drove the lorry to some premises to take on a load if there was one for him, viz. on his master’s business; he said that on the way back he deviated from the normal route to see a friend, whom he did not see, and also said his master had never told him the route he was to drive in. (It was on the way back that the accident occurred.)
On (b) (besides a minor point on pleading): Appellants argued that the Judge assessed general damages on wrong principles.
(a) The question whether the driver was acting within the scope of his employment was one of fact; the onus of proving that he was not so acting was on the defence; and the appellants failed to show that the Judge was not justified in his finding that the driver was so acting.
(b) It could not be said that there had been a wholly erroneous estimate of the damage suffered, nor did the judgment proceed on wrong principles.