You are on page 1of 3

SACKEY v.

FATTAL [1959] GLR


169-189
FACTS: The Plaintiff sought to buy a large amount of Spun Rayon Bales from a Japanese
Corporation the Defendant store. They agreed on the purchase price but the Plaintiff had stressed
on the fact that the product purchased be of the same quality. However on delivery of the goods,
the Plaintiff realized that the goods were of a quality that was far inferior to that of the samples
she was presented. However due to the fact that the Plaintiff had already met the bank charges
and in order to avoid the extra cost of having the goods shipped back, she was compelled to sell
the goods of inferior grades she received.
The Defendants however contended that their Firm acted as Agents for transactions between
Ghanaian parties and the Japanese Corporation. Thus two years prior to the present action, the
Plaintiff had purchased the goods from the Japanese corporation through the defendants, based
on the samples that was presented to her. However after delivery of the goods, the Plaintiff
alleged that some of the goods quality were inferior to that of the samples that were given to her.
The defendant then claimed that on her request, they advised her to take one of three decisions:
1.
2.

to send back the bales in question to the Japanese Corporation, or


to agree to have the bales sold at a public auction under the supervision of the
Defendants firm, the Japanese Corporation to be asked to pay whatever difference might
be found due to Plaintiff, or
3. to agree to accept such compensation as might be fixed between her and the Japanese
Corporation.
According to the recounting of facts, the Defendant alluded that Miss SACKEY informed them
that she would rather take action directly against the corporation through her bankers, but they
ended up utterly surprised when they were served with a writ, as in their position of Agents, they
only acted as intermediaries and were in no way privy to the contract of sale between the
Plaintiff and the corporation.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: High Court.

ISSUES:
Whether or not the Defendant in their role of Agents could be held liable for the actions of their
Principal (Japanese Corporation)?
Whether or not in the current situation, the Defendants could assume liability as Principals?
What is the nature and quantum of damages available to the Plaintiff if proven that her claim is
justified?

HOLDINGS: Plaintiff action sustained


1. Even though the general custom is that an Agent assumes liability for his principal when
contracting, the Courts will most often decide based on the particular facts of each case.
2. That if a customer writes to the foreign manufacturers of goods forming the subject
matter of a breached contract, this does not constitute an election by the customer to treat
the manufacturers as principals;
3. That where a contract is breached by the delivery of goods below sample-quality, the
quantum of damages is the difference in market price fetched by the goods delivered and
the prevailing market price for goods of the sample-quality.

RATIO DECIDENDI
OLLENU J:
The Learned Judge first of all establishes that the Defendant, being the sole distributor of the
products manufactured by the Corporation, were and could only be sued as / in their capacity as
Agents.
In respect of the defense argument that the Defendants as Agents could not be sued as they had
no rights or liabilities and also that the Principals being disclosed and the fact that the Plaintiff
averred that she would deal with them directly, the Learned OLLENU J states that when a
question is raised as to the nature or the legal position of an agent , the determination is based on
ascertaining the specifics facts of each situation, and asserting the intention of the parties as at
the time they were contracting. Thus on the facts, Justice OLLENU argues that the woman being
an illiterate, it couldnt be held that she intended contracting with a corporation far away in
Japan, but instead was solely focused on the defendants as the other party responsible for the
discharge of their contractual relationship.
In relation to the Defenses argument that the Plaintiff was estopped from suing the Defendant as
she had taken upon herself to resolve the matter with the Overseas Corporation through her
bankers, OLLENU J relies on the decision in the case of DRAMBURG & Another v
POLLITZER ((1873) 28 L.T.R. N.S. 470), where it was held that an order placed with, and
accepted by, an agent of foreign manufacturers formed a contract between the customer and the
agent. It was further held that a letter written by the customer to the foreign manufacturers, after
a breach of that contract had been committed, did not constitute an election by the customer to
treat the manufacturers as principals.
Thus based on the evidences gathered above, OLLENU J finds that the Defendants failed to
discharge their duty according to the sample-quality requirement expressed by the Plaintiff and
that the quantum of damages be the difference between the market price fetched by the poor

quality goods and the market price for the good sample-quality, prevailing at the time (Peterson
v. Ayre (138 E.R. (C.P.) 1235)).