Drama of a HIRE PURCHASER
(Mr Mellow was lucky to meet Barr ojulari in his on a Monday morning, they both sat in the chambers to have their conversation as they were both eating cashew-nut form a white bottle and drinking non-alcoholic champagne.)
MR. MELLOW : Thanks to God that I don’t have to wait for you at office today before I meet you. You are always busy, Only God knows your real office between Court and this one.
BARR. OJULARI : (Laughs) I have too many Commitments. Our meeting just coincides with today that I don’t have any matter in Court and I have no seminar to attend. What about you stolen car?
MR. MELLOW : Those thieves have been arrested, the Nigerian Police is working diligently.
BARR. OJULARI : That’s a good news! Those thieves will have to be sentenced to up to seven years imprisonment upon their conviction.
MR. MELLOW : Wow! I’m happy my friend. Though I don’t trust the car engine anymore, so I want to change my car.
BARR. OJULARI : That’s good too!
MR. MELLOW : But the price of the car that I want to buy now is fifty million naira (50,000,000) but I can’t afford to pay the price at once, so I am deliberating on hire purchase. But there are many things about hire purchase that is making me scare of it, so I think I should inform my competent professional lawyer!
BARR. OJULARI : Have you been availed with any agreement document?
MR. MELLOW : Not yet! Though I have seen the Owner that car, and we have agreed on a price which is fifty million naira.
BARR. OJULARI : Well, kindly be informed that hire purchase is the bailment of goods in pursuance of an agreement under which the Bailed may buy goods or under which the property in the goods will or may pass to the Bailee .
MR. MELLOW :(interrupting) You have come with your legal terms again! Only what I heard from you is the word Bailee, and I don’t even understand the meaning.
BARR. OJULARI : Anyways, a Bailee is a person who receives personal property from another, and has possession of, but not title to the property.
MR. MELLOW : So, meaning that, I will be the Bailee after I have signed the agreement of hire purchase, and I will not be the owner yet, until I pay the agreed price completely.
BARR. OJULARI : Yes friend! Until you pay the last instalment, the car will not be yours, you are nothing but a hirer who pays from time to time for hire .
MR. MELLOW : I have interest in this hire purchase agreement, but I’m still afraid because the owner can come anytime to recover his car from me if I default an agreed payment date, upon all the money I have paid and that will be the end of it.
BARR. OJULARI :Well! That happens only under Common law, the owner can retrieve the car even if it remains only the last payment, the hirer will have no legal interest in the goods after it has been recovered , and he can not even be able to redeem it anymore.
MR. MELLOW : That law is too harsh! That is unfair to the hirer.
BARR. OJULARI : But the position of law has changed now in Nigeria, the owner can no longer recover the car indiscriminately.
MR. MELLOW : That’s good, I have interest to know what the position of law is now as regards this matter.
BARR. OJULARI : At presence, after the payment of a relevant proportion of the hire purchase price, the owner can not recover the car anymore, unless there is an injunction of a court of law to effect the recovery .
MR. MELLOW : Bravo!
BARR. OJULARI : Though the owner can recover the vehicle if the relevant proportion of the hire purchase price has not been paid, and the hirer fails to pay for three or more times installment. He will just remove the vehicle to his control.
MR. MELLOW : OK, but what is the meaning of relevant proportion in the case of motor vehicle, that if it has been paid, the owner will no longer recover the vehicle from me unless there is an order from the Court of law?
BARR. OJULARI : In case of motor vehicle, the relevant proportion is three- fifth of the agreed price, meaning that if you have paid 30 million naira out of 50 million naira, the owner has no right to take the car away from you anymore if you default unless he institutes an action against you in a law court.
MR. MELLOW : Wow, Fantabulous! I will just sell the car after paying 30 million naira and buy another one, we can’t have problem since I will be paying the remaining money on agreed date.
BARR. OJULARI : Never! You have no right to do so.You can not sell a car that is still under hire purchase agreement The car is not your own until you pay the price completely. “Nemo dat quod non Habet”, you can’t give what you don’t have.
MR. MELLOW :Ah! Okay! I’ve learnt. But what will happen if after I have paid the relevant proportion of the agreed price, and the owner comes to recover the car from me without a court order?
BARR. OJULARI :If the owner recovers the goods without a court action, he would face the dire consequences of such reckless behaviour, he will have to refund all the sums paid in respect of that hire purchase agreement.
MR. MELLOW : That is good!
BARR. OJULARI : He will loose is right to enforce that contract, either to retrieve his monies due under the agreement or damages for breach of contract, in fact, the hire may end up keeping both the car and the remaining money.
MR. MELLOW : This is awesome!
BARR. OJULARI :In fact, the owner will be liable for any loss or damage which might be caused by the removal of that vehicle.
MR. MELLOW : Now that I have known my right as a hirer under hire purchase agreement, no owner can dupe me again under the pretext of claiming what is not recognised under the law. I can just go and hire as much car as I want now, so far I don’t do what is against the law, am I safe?
BARR. OJULARI: You are extremely safe!
(A legal intern enter the office with 10 case files and places it on Barr. Ojulari’s table)
MR. MELLOW : Huh! You are about to get busy again. Let me be on my way now. I don’t know if you like US dollars, I will just give you 5000 notes of it now.
BARR. OJULARI : God forbids a day that I will dislike money, bring it of course.
(Mr. Mellow gives $5000 to Barr. Ojulari and left the chambers).
Pursuance : According to
Common law : The body of law developed in England primarily from judicial decisions based on custom and precedent, unwritten in statute or code, and constituting the basis of the English legal system
Hirer : A person who make payment for the temporary use of something
. Section 390 (10) (a) of The Criminal Code Act
. Section 20 (1) of the Hirer Purchase Act, Cap H4, Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004, hereinafter referred to as Hire Purchase Act.
 Helby V. Matthews (1895) A.C 471
. Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th edition
. Onjefegwono V. Agunbiade & An or (reported) Suit No : B/5/75
. BENTWORTH finance Nigeria Limited V. Debank Transport Ltd (1968) 3 ALR 52
. Atere V. Amao (1957) WRNLR 176
. Williams V. UAC Ltd (1937) 3 NLR 134
. Section 9 (1) of Hire Purchase Act
. Ibid., Section 9(5)
. Raimi V. Akintoye & Ors (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt. 26) p99
. Ibid. Section 9 (2) (a)
. Civil Resign Construction Nigeria Limited V. SCOA Nigeria Limited (2007) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1030) p300
. Ibid., section 9 (5)
ABDULRAUF Abdullahi Adebayo is a Law student, a Content creator, a Dynamic Writer and a Ghost writer. He can be reached via +2349033904883 and [email protected]