Supreme Court Judgement: Sea and Sun Maldives v Ismail Rafeeu

Summary of the Decision

On 12 July 2020, the Supreme Court of the Maldives upheld the judgment of the High Court in an appeal case filed by Sea and Sun Maldives Pvt Ltd against Ismail Rafeeu. The case before the Supreme Court, originated from a contract dispute that arose for Sea and Sun’s alleged non-delivery of fibreglass materials to Ismail Rafeeu, in accordance with the terms of the contract.

The Background

  1. In the initial civil trial filed against Sea and Sun by Ismail Rafeeu alleging non-performance, he sued for monies equivalent to the undelivered goods under the contract, and damages. Ismail Rafeeu entered into a supply contract with Sea and Sun for the purchase of fibreglass to be used in the manufacture of a fibreglass dhoni. According to the contract, the total value of goods to be supplied by Sea and Sun was MVR 921,995 and the list of fibreglass materials to be supplied within a 25 day period was specified in two separate quotations issued to Ismail Rafeeu.
  2. In the civil trial, Ismail Rafeeu argued that, even though he settled the advance payment of MVR 815,049 as stated in Clause 3 of the contract, Sea and Sun failed to deliver the fibreglass materials specified in the second quotation. Ismail Rafeeu sought monies equivalent to the value of the undelivered fibreglass material and damages, amounting to a total of MVR 1,506,349. The Civil Court, ruling in favour of Ismail Rafeeu, held that as the contract clearly indicates that the advance payment was settled by Ismail Rafeeu, Sea and Sun must repay the amount of MVR 815,049.
  3. On appeal, the High Court upheld the decision of the Civil Court in favour of Ismail Rafeeu, but held that the judgment amount was incorrect and must be amended. The Court observed that, from the two quotations issued by Sea and Sun, fibreglass material specified in the first quotation of MVR 369,946.40 was delivered to Ismail Rafeeu. The Court opined that the value of the delivered fibreglass materials must be deducted from the advance payment of MVR 815,049 made by Ismail Rafeeu and the remaining MVR 445,102.60 must be settled by Sea and Sun within two months of the date of judgment.
  4. The Supreme Court upholding the High Court’s decision noted that, even though Sea and Sun contended that the judgment amount of MVR 815,049 had no basis, the High Court had already made a ruling on this point and amended the trial court’s decision.
  5. The Supreme Court heard an additional four points of appeal submitted by Sea and Sun. Notably, the Court observed that even though Sea and Sun contended that Ismail Rafeeu only made one payment by cheque to the amount of MVR 583,649, Clause 3 of the signed contract between the two parties stipulated that Ismail Rafeeu made the advance payment to Sea and Sun on 27 January 2008. Notwithstanding any evidence presented to the contrary, the presumption remains that Sea and Sun had received the advance payment from Ismail Rafeeu. The apex court also observed that Sea and Sun did not dispute the validity of the contract during the Civil Court, or High Court proceedings.
  6. Sea and Sun argued to the Supreme Court that the Civil Court and High Court failed to adhere to the balance of probabilities standard in hearing the case against Sea and Sun filed by Ismail Rafeeu. The apex court observed that the parties to the claim must discharge the burden of proof placed upon them. The Court further observed that, even though Sea and Sun contended that fibreglass materials under the second quotation were delivered to Ismail Rafeeu, they failed to discharge the burden of proof with respect to this issue during both the Civil Court and High Court proceedings.

The Decision

The Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s decision to amend the judgment amount.