IN THE HIGH COURT OF MALAWI
LILONGWE DISTRICT REGISTRY
CIVIL CAUSE NO. 303 OF 2004
MILWARD SANDIFOLO . PLAINITIFF
KAMWAYI FARMERS INVESTMENT CO. LTD ... DEFENDANT
CORAM: T.R.Ligowe : Assistant Registrar
Nyirongo (Mrs.): Counsel for the Plaintiff
Kafotokoza : Court Interpreter
ORDER ON ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES
The plaintiff brought action against the defendant claiming for damages for conversion and loss of use of his vehicle, a Mazda pick up Registration Number MC 193 which was unlawfully seized by the defendant plus costs of the action. He obtained a judgment in default of the defendants notice of intention to defend, adjudging the defendant to pay the said damages and costs. This is an order on assessment of the damages.
On the date appointed to assess the damages the defendant did not attend the hearing despite having been duly served with the notice. The Court proceeded in their absence because no reason for the non attendance was communicated.
The evidence given by the plaintiff shows that he and other members of Kadakatali Club got farm inputs worth K30 145.05 on loan in 1999 from the defendant payable in 2000. The loan was completely paid by 2nd December 2000. He tendered cash receipts Numbers LOR 034, 037, 521 and 1871 issued by the defendant company showing payments of K9 500, K9 000, K8 000, K1 245.05 and K1 000 respectively. The receipts were marked EXP1 up to 5. The last receipt shows there was no balance left. But surprisingly on 22nd March 2004 the defendant came to the plaintiffs house to demand payment of a balance of K1 400 and K28 000 interests. He tendered an invoice they were issued on taking the items and told the court that there was nothing like interest would be charged. The defendant seized the plaintiffs vehicle in question in this case. When he went to follow up on the matter, the defendant insisted the plaintiff still had to pay. He was forced to sign a document committing him to pay the alleged balance and interests. He was threatened to be shot with a gun if he did not sign. Later a clerk from the defendant company was sent to tell him to bring K5 000 to get his car back. He was told to bring a battery, jack and spanners to use on the car. The owner of the defendant company received the K5 000 and told his boys to put the battery, jack and spanners into his house. When the plaintiff insisted there was no balance left, he was beaten together with his brother. The vehicle was never given back to him and he heard it was sold but he was not sure about it. He bought the vehicle at K170 000. He tendered a document he and the vendor executed to prove that fact. He also told court he had repaired it such that at the time it was seized it might be worthy K250 000.
The normal measure of damages for conversion is the market value of the goods converted. See McGregor on Damages, 15th Edition paragraph 1298. The plaintiffs evidence in this case is unchallenged. I award him K250 000 as damages for conversion.
Counsel for the plaintiff submitted for damages for loss of use of the vehicle. This court cannot award damages on that claim as no evidence was given to prove it. Costs are to the plaintiff.
Made in chambers this day of August 2005.
T. R. Ligowe