By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – Prof. Peter Fogam, who delivered an inaugural lecture of at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), on Wednesday recalled the experience he and the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had while serving in Somalia.Fogam is a Professor of Commercial Law at the Department of Commercial and Industrial Law, Faculty of Law, UNILAG.
The topic of his lecture is “Buying and Selling: Resolving Problems Caused by the Concept of Transfer of Property in Contracts of Sale of Goods. “He said that his bond with the vice president, who attended the inaugural lecture, started from the Faculty of Law, UNILAG.“This bond got stronger when we took an adventure to work with the UN Operations in Somalia (UNISOM).“Through Prof. Adeyemi, we found ourselves in Mogadishu; it was and is still an extremely hostile environment.
“Whenever there were gunshots–and this was very frequent-one will call to check if the other was safe.”Delivering the lecture, Fogam said that the law governing the sale of goods in Nigeria was first contained in the Sale of Goods Act 1893, which as a statute of general application was first adopted by the erstwhile regions of the country.He said that the statute was also later adopted by the different states of the Federation of Nigeria.
Fogam said that the complications posed by the determination of the nature of goods notwithstanding, the parties to a sale transaction were further confronted with a more fundamental dilemma.“The convoluted nature of statutory provisions lying at the heart of the formalities required for the transfer of ownership or property in a transaction for the sale of goods.“This dilemma is the requirement of consent or intention of the parties to the contract.“The law of the countries under this consent principle often allows the parties to agree on the timing and manner o the transfer of property.“The gravamen of the consent or intention principle is the understanding that a contract is a consensual agreement.
“So, in the case of transfer of ownership, the law must allow the parties to agree on the timing and manner of the transfer of property.”According to him, it is in this spirit that the intention of the parties is today the dominant rule on the issue of passing of property in a contract of sale of goods.He said that commercial law must be judged on terms of its effectiveness in facilitating commercial transactions and trade for the economic well-being of society.Fogam said that an inherited 19th century statutory rules on transfer of property could not meet the requirement.
He said that Nigeria’s law on the sale of goods continued to make the single concept of property it’s central organising concept to determine the rights and obligations of parties in many different kinds of disputes.“A single concept namely, ‘property’ must not be stretched to cover so many different issues.“We are aware that commendable efforts have been made by Lagos State in the review of laws in this area.
“The efforts must not stop at merely adjusting the existing law.“A comprehensive overhaul affecting all aspects of the sale of goods especially the vexed issue of transfer of property is required, ” he said.In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said that Fogam made a topical presentation bothering on buying and selling.He said that the lecturer reminded the audience of the importance of the frequency of buying and selling.
According to him, a significant component in contract of sale of goods is transfer of ownership.He said that Fogam had creditably acquitted himself through the worthy inaugural lecture he presented