Clerical Error: Supreme Court Reverses 2019 Judgment In GTBank/Innoson Suit

The supreme court has reversed its earlier decision which dismissed an appeal by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) against N2.4billion judgment given in favour of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing, an automobile company.

GTB is now a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holdings Company plc (GTCO).

A federal high court in Ibadan, Oyo state, had ordered GTB by way of Garnishee order absolute — to pay N2.4 billion to Innoson with a 22% interest, per annum, on the judgment sum until the final liquidation. 

A garnishee order is one of the options open to a judgment creditor to enforce a judgment made in its favour.

Dissatisfied, the bank had appealed the high court’s verdict up to the apex court.

The supreme court, however, on February 27, 2019, dismissed GTB’s appeal and affirmed the judgment of the federal high court.

Still aggrieved by the supreme court’s judgment, GTB filed an application seeking the re-listing of the appeal on the grounds that it was wrongly dismissed.

Delivering judgment on Friday, a five-member panel of justices led by Olukayode Ariwoola, held unanimously that the supreme court erred when it erroneously dismissed GTB’s appeal marked: SC/694/2014.

In the lead judgment written by Tijani Abubakar but read Abdu Aboki, the court held that it was misled by its registry, which failed to promptly bring to the notice of the panel that sat on the case on February 27, 2019, that GTB had already filed its appellant’s brief of argument.

The supreme court stated that if the panel hearing the case on February 27, 2019, had been informed of the availability of the appellant’s brief of argument, the judgement would not have been issued.

Relying on Order 8 Rules 16 of the Supreme Court Rules, the apex court held that it has the power to set aside its decision in certain circumstances, like any other court.

According to the panel, some of the circumstances to do so includes when the parties obtained judgment by fraud, default or deceit; where such a decision is a nullity or where it is obvious that the court was misled into giving a decision.

“I am convinced that at the material time that the appellant’s appeal was inadvertently dismissed by this court, there was in place, a valid and subsisting brief of argument filed by the applicant,” the court held.

“It will be unjust to visit the sin of the court’s Registry on an innocent, vigilant, proactive and diligent litigant.

“It is obvious from the material before us, that there were errors committed by the Registry of this court, having failed to bring to the notice of the panel of Justices that sat in chambers on the 27th February 2019 that the appellant had indeed filed its brief of argument.

“This is a case deserving of positive consideration by this court.

“Having gone through all the materials in this application, therefore, I am satisfied that the appellant/applicant’s brief of argument was filed before the order of this court made on the 27th of February 2019 dismissing the applicant’s appeal.

“The order dismissing the appeal was therefore made in error. It ought not to have been made if all materials were disclosed. The application is, therefore, meritorious and hereby succeeds.”

The court then set aside its previous ruling and ordered that the appeal marked: SC/694/2014 “be relisted to constitute an integral part of the business of this court until its hearing and determination on the merit.”

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