Letter Heads/Headings/Titles Are Not Important, Compared To Contents/Bodies Of Agreements/Letters

Letter Heads/Headings/Titles Are Not Important, Compared To Contents/Bodies Of Agreements/Letters. Daily Law Tips (Tip 493) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

“Now the question is, what is the significance of a heading of a document or a letter head of a document, vis a vis its content. The law has always been that, the heading of a document or even a letter head as in the instant case, is of no significance, or importance. What matters is the content of such document.”

“This Court is in full agreement with the findings of the learned trial Judge in his Judgment, when he stated it was a deliberate act by the Appellant to apply for the loan using the name of his other company on its letter head, which he knew does not have, or maintain an account, with the Respondent. This was to avoid payment of the loan or monies he withdrew from his account with Respondent. The content of that application no doubt is a transaction between the Appellant and the Respondent, and not between the Respondent and Sky-Nwagod (Nig) Ltd. The law, has not left a vacuum on this subject. A title, which the letter head of Sky-Nwagod Nig. Ltd stands for, does not necessarily control the contents of the document. See:- Ogbonna V. A.G. Imo State (1992) 2 SCNJ 26 at 45.”

“It is a cardinal rule of interpretation of statutes that the heading cannot control the plain words of the statute (or a letter) as in this respect. The rule was expressed in R.V. Surrey Assessment Committee (1948) 1 K.B. 29 at page 32 by Lord Goddard, CJ in these words:- “But while the Court is entitled to look at the headings in an Act of Parliament to resolve any doubt they may have as to ambiguous words the law is quite clear that you cannot use such headings to give a different effect to clear words in the section where there cannot be any doubt as to the ordinary meaning.”

“This is the law here in Nigeria. See:- Oke of Warri V. Chief Sam Warri Essi & Ors (1958) 3 FSC 94 at 97; Ogbonna V. A.G. Imo State (1992) 2 SCNJ 26 at 45; The Registered Trustees V. Medical Health Workers (2008) 1 SCNJ 348 at 378; Artra Industries V. Nigeria Bank for Commerce and Industries (1998) 3 SCNJ 97 at 115; Peter Odofin V. Jimoh Oni (2001) 1 SCNJ 130 at 142.”

Per BAGE ,J.S.C ( Pp. 22-24, paras. E-C )


The decision of the Court of Appeal, in the case of OKORO NWACHUKWU v. BOJI-BOJI MICROFINANCE BANK NIG LTD

(2013) LPELR-20309(CA), delivered on 8 March 2013.









Feel free to reach the author, ask questions or make inquiries on this topic or any other legal issues via onyekachi.umah@gmail.com or +2348037665878.


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