REVOCATION OF A VALID DEED OF GIFT

This article seeks to answer the question whether a deed of gift can be revoked and what safeguards can a person put in place to ensure that they can revoke same?

A deed of gift inter vivos is a deed of gift made during the life time of the donor and cannot be unilaterally revoked by the donor except with the consent of the donee or where a reservation/ground for revocation is provided for under the instrument (in this instance the deed of gift) granting the donor power to revoke the gift where such a situation arises. Even the descendants of the donor cannot revoke same.

The Supreme Court in Imah & Anor v. Okogbe & Anor[1] held that unless the donor of a gift reserves the right to revoke same, once a gift has validly passed to the donee it cannot be revoked in absence of fraud, mistake, misrepresentation or other invalidating cause.

In Anyaegbunam v Osaka[2], the Supreme Court held that a gift can only be revoked where the donor establishes fraud, mistake, misrepresentation or perhaps total failure of the object of the gift, then upon such evidence the gift may be revoked.

In the more recent case of Enahoro v. O-Cerons Ltd & Ors[3], the Court of Appeal reiterated the position of the Supreme Court in Imah v. Okogbe above and held that where an absolute gift inter vivos is made by a donor, the donor cannot resile from it.

Very recently, the Court of Appeal in Amaefula v. Mbaegbu & Anor[4], further held that a gift of property inter vivos cannot be revoked even by the beneficiaries of the donor.

It is worthy of note that the broad exception underlined above has not been explored in the litany of authorities I reviewed and whether or not the present issues arising from the gift can come under same is yet to tested.

Conclusion

A deed of gift cannot be unilaterally revoked by the donor without the concurrence of the donee. It is advised therefore that where a person seeks to make a gift, consideration should be had as to whether an absolute or conditional gift is what they have in mind.


[1] IMAH & ANOR v. OKOGBE & ANOR (1993) LPELR-1497(SC); (1993) 9 NWLR (Pt. 315) 159 @ pg 173 Per YEKINI OLAYIWOLA ADIO, JSC (Pp 15 – 15 Paras F – G)

[2] ANYAEGBUNAM v. OSAKA & ORS (2000) LPELR-508(SC) Per AKINTOLA OLUFEMI EJIWUNMI, JSC (Pp 25 – 25 Paras C – D)

[3] ENAHORO v. O-CERONS LTD & ORS (2014) LPELR-22841(CA) Per JOSEPH SHAGBAOR IKYEGH, JCA (Pp 40 – 40 Paras C – F)

[4] AMAEFULA v. MBAEGBU & ANOR (2018) LPELR-46627(CA) Per ITA GEORGE MBABA, JCA (Pp 9 – 10 Paras C – D)

Published by Oghogho Okuegha Esq.

I am a legal practitioner with experience in the Nigerian legal industry spanning corporate, commercial, civil, and property law. I have appeared in various litigation matters from labour-related disputes at the National Industrial Court to land disputes which started at the High Court up to the Court of Appeal. This page was created to share some knowledge on certain legal issues bedeviling society, seeing that a lot of people could really use it. I hope you find the contents helpful. Cheers!

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