• Francis Obonyo
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The court will be wrong if it grants specific performance to a person with unclean hands, says the Supreme Court

In the Case of NIPUN BHATI &HEMANTINI BHATIA V BOUTIQUE SHAZIM LTD CIVIL APPEAL 179 OF 2015 IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF UGANDA. 

CORAM; JUSTICE OWINY DOLLO, PERCY NIGHT TUHAISE & FREDRICK EGONDA NTENDE. Judgment delivered on the 3rd of March, 2020.

This was a case of breach of contract, where the appellant’s late husband got into a contract with the Respondent to sell his land at a specific price in two installments within a specif time outlined in the contract. The terms of the contract were that the balance was to be paid 75 days after the installment, and failure to do so would terminate the contract and the initial payment refunded to the buyer. The Respondent, who was also the buyer, failed to pay the balance within the specified time. This called for the termination of the contract. A a result, the appellants refunded the initial payment was refunded to the Respondent. The Respondent sued the appellants for breach of contract. In their suit, they prayed for the specific performance of the contract by the appellant. The high court dismissed the case stating that there was no cause of action. The Respondent appealed to the court of appeal, which ruled in favor of the Respondent. The court then ordered that the high court ruling was wrong and ordered that the land be given to the Respondent. The appellants appealed to the supreme court, and the justices of the supreme court, in this case, allowed the appeal stating that court was wrong to grant specific performance to a person who has unclean hands. The Justices stated that the Respondent failed to keep his part of the bargain, and as such, specific performance could not be done. The Justices also stated that the contract was clear as to it is terms and also provided for what ought to happen in a scenario where the money is not fully paid. This had to be interpreted strictly because the appellants were clear.
The Justices allowed this appeal and ordered that the land be given back to the appellants.