IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE
IN THE HIGH COURT (COMMERCIAL DIVISION)
KUMASI - A.D 2015
ABASS AMADU - (Plaintiff)
NOBLE DREAM FINANCIAL SERVICES - (Defendant)
DATE: 2RD APRIL, 2015
SUIT NO: BFS/260/14
JUDGES: HER LADYSHIP ANGELINA MENSAH-HOMIAH (MRS.) JUSTICE OF THE HIGH COURT
ALFRED ANIM QUASHIE FOR PLAINTIFF
KWASI ADU MANTE FOR DEFENDANT
“Cash in savings accounts, short term CDs or money market deposits – is great for an emergency fund…” Suze Orman. Is this applicable to the Plaintiff herein who alleges that he has been deprived of his short term investment? An answer will be provided as the case unfolds.
The Plaintiff’s case is simple. He invested an amount of GHS¢20,000.00 in the Defendant Financial Institution for a period of three months with a fixed interest of GH¢2,100.00. Upon maturity; he withdrew his interest and reinvested the principal of GH¢20,000.00 on the same terms. This time round, the Defendant failed to pay the principal and accrued interest on the due date in spite of several promises to do so.
The Defendant put up its usual “customized” statement of defence to the effect that the Plaintiff has never been its customer and the Company is not indebted to him in any way. The Defendant also denied having any dealings whatsoever with the Plaintiff.
These are the issues to be determined by the court:
Whether or not the Plaintiff is a customer of the Defendant financial institution?
Whether or not the Plaintiff invested GH¢20,000.00 in the Defendant’s institution?
Whether or not the Plaintiff is entitled to his claim?
As to be expected, the Defendant and its lawyer who were aware of the court date failed to show up for the trial. Thus, the court was compelled to proceed with the trial under order 36 rule 1 (2) (a) of the (High Court Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004, C.I. 47. The rule states as follows:
Rule (1) (2) where an action is called for trial and a party fails to attend, the trial judge may:
Where the Plaintiff attends and the defendant fails to attend, dismiss the counterclaim, if any, and allow the plaintiff to prove the claim.
Consequently, when the Defendant’s representative and counsel with full knowledge of the trial, elected not to come to court on 25/03/2015, the Plaintiff was allowed to prove his case. As a student of KNUST who was desirous of saving his money, the Plaintiff said he opened an account at the Ahodwo Branch of Noble Dream Financial Services where he deposited an amount of GH¢20,000.00. He was issued with pay-in-slip (exhibit A). He also tendered an investment certificate in respect of his account as exhibit B.
Concluding, the Plaintiff maintained his position that as a customer of the bank, he has had several dealings with the institution and that on 06/04/2014, he received a phone call to join a meeting which management held with customers. He therefore invited the court to examine his documents and grant his reliefs.
From the evidence led by the Plaintiff, particularly exhibit A, it has been clearly established that at his request, the Defendant opened an account in his name at its Ahodwo branch. Details of the account as gathered from exhibit A are follows: Account Name: Amadu Abass. Account Number: 200101055970. On 25/09/13, exhibit A shows that the Plaintiff personally deposited an amount of GH¢20,000.00 in the said account. I further find from exhibit B that the Plaintiff invested GH¢20,000.00 at the same Bank with reference number 20-010105597-01. This investment was for a period of three months with a due date of 1-Jul-14. The Plaintiff signed exhibit B and an authorized officer of the Defendant also signed. In my view, exhibit B is a short term investment certificate and the Defendant undertook to honour its obligations there under upon maturity of the investment.
The Plaintiff has led sufficient evidence from which it can be inferred that he deposited money at the Defendant bank and which makes him a customer of the said Bank. To quote the statement of Lord Dunedin in Commissioner of Taxation v English, Scottish and Australian Bank Ltd ( 1920) AC 683 at 687:
“ … A person whose money has been accepted by a bank on a footing that they undertake to honour cheques up to the amount standing to his credit is a customer of the bank…”
From the evidence on record, there is no doubt in my mind that the Plaintiff is entitled to a refund of the amount which was due on 01/07/2014 i.e. GH¢22,100.00. Beyond the maturity date, since there was no justification on the part of the Defendant to hold on to the Plaintiff’s money, the Defendant must pay interest on the amount so withheld. To quote Lord Herschell LC in Chatham & Dover Railway Co. v South Eastern Railway Co. (1893) AC 429:
“ … When money is owing from one party to another and that other is driven to have recourse to legal proceedings in order to recover the amount due to him, the party who is wrongfully withholding the money from the other ought not in justice to benefit by having that money in his possession and enjoying the use of it, when the money ought to be in the possession of the other party who is entitled to its use. Therefore, if I could see my way through to do so, I should certainly be disposed to give the appellant, or anybody in similar position, interest upon the amount withheld…” See also Akoto v Gyamfi- Addo (2005-2006) SCGLR 1018.
At what rate is interest to be paid? Certainly, the agreed interest in exhibit B was for a period of three months only. I will thus apply the provisions of the Court (Award of Interest and Post Judgment Interest) Rules, 2005 C.I. 52. The relevant provisions to this case are stated below.
Rule 1: If the court in a civil cause or matter decides to make an order for the payment of interest on a sum of money due to a party in the action, that interest shall be calculated
(a) At the prevailing bank rate at the time the order is made, and
(b) At simple interest.
Subject to sub rule (2), each judgment debt shall bear interest at the statutory interest rate from the date of delivery of judgment up to the date of final payment.
Sub rule (2) deals with instances where the interest rate is agreed by the parties or is embodied in an instrument or admitted by the parties and this is inapplicable to this case.
In the circumstance, I enter judgment in favour of the Plaintiff for the sum of GH ¢22, 100.00 together with interest at the prevailing bank rate and at simple interest from 01/07/2014 to the date of final payment.
The trial was concluded in a day and the facts were straight forward. Taking into account the provisions on the award of costs under order 7
4 of C.I. 47, I award cost of GH¢1,000.00 against the Defendant in favour of the Plaintiff.
With this judgment, the Plaintiff can have the benefit of his short term investment which has become a “long term investment” in disguise.