Court name
HC: Civil Division (Uganda)
Judgment date
16 April 2014

Game Concepts v Mweru (Civil Appeal-2012/71) [2014] UGHCCD 60 (16 April 2014);

Cite this case
[2014] UGHCCD 60

Betting contract entered into after the match had been played according to the EDT

THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA

IN THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA AT KAMPALA

CIVIL DIVISION

CIVIL APPEAL NO.71 OF 2012

 

GAME CONCEPTS     ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::   APPELLANT

VERSUS

MWERU ROGERS      ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::    RESPONDENT

Brief facts

The brief facts constituting this appeal are that on 8th September 2011, the respondent placed a bet at the appellant’s Game Bet Point at Nateete for UGX 1.500.000= on  a match between Argentinean soccer teams; Independiente and San Martin. He expected to win UGX 4.500.000=. The appellant refused to pay the respondent the winnings on ground that, by the time the respondent placed his bet the match had already been played and the results were known. The respondent sued for shs 4.500.000= and for general damages, interest and costs of the suit.

According to the lower court’s record, the appellant contended that by the time the respondent placed his bid in the morning of 8th September 2011 after 9.00 am the said match had already been played on the same date but at 3.00 am Uganda local time and so no valid gaming contract was created between the parties. The appellant further contented that it had accepted the respondent’s bet in good faith based on the erroneous information that was published on a web page www.oddsportal.com that the said match was to be played on 8th September 2011 at 10.00 pm. Further that the respondent well aware of the outcome of the said match set out to perpetuate a fraud on the defendant. In the lower courts scheduling memorandum by the parties, three issues were framed to wit that:-

  1. Whether there was a valid gaming contract between the plaintiff and the defendant. (appellant and respondent).
  2. Whether the contract was breached by the defendant (appellant).
  3. What remedies are available to the parties.

 

The learned trial magistrate resolved issue No.1 and 2 in the affirmative and awarded the respondent the contract price of shs. 4,500,000/=, general damages of shs1,500,000/= and interest at court rate from the date of judgment till payment in full. The appellant was dissatisfied with this judgment hence this appeal on the following grounds.

  1. The learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact in holding                  that there was a valid gaming contract between the                             appellant and respondent.
  2. The learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact when she                   failed to consider the effect of mistake on the alleged                           contract between the appellant and respondent.
  3. The learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact in holding                  that the appellant breached a contract between the                              appellant and the respondent.
  4. The learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact in holding that the appellant was liable to any damages to the respondent.

Contract law-validity of a betting contract- whether a bet entered into after the match had been played forms a valid contract- whether that fact was known to the person betting- whether the person betting can rely on the fixture to claim payment for a match that had earlier been played.

Contract- betting contract- elements of a betting contract

Contract- betting contract-uncertainty- whether uncertainty is a precondition to a valid betting contract

Contract- mistake- whether the appellant can rely on mistake to vitiate the contract.

 

Held

  1. I agree with learned counsel for the appellant that there was no valid contract because the performance of the contract would depend on the respondent predicting the results of the match to be played at 10.00pm on the 8th September and correctly. The assumption was that the parties would not know if the respondent’s prediction was correct until the time the match was played. From the evidence on record, it is apparent that the match the subject of the betting contract had been played by the time the respondent placed his bet and the results were in the public domain. This meant that the event on which the performance of the contract depended was no longer uncertain.
  2. Uncertainty is a precondition to a valid betting contract. Therefore there was no valid wagering contract between the appellant and the respondent.
  3. In the instant case, the agreement between the parties was contingent on the match being played at 10.00 pm and the respondent having predicted the result correctly. The match was not played at 10.00 pm but earlier as stated above. In the circumstances, the contract between the parties was void.
  4. In the instant case, it was an essential element of the contract that the match was not yet played and the results not yet known before the respondent placed his bet because otherwise, he would not be predicting anything.
  5. From the evidence on record, both parties were operating under a mistake. The learned trial Magistrate wrongly held that the match was played as scheduled in the fixture obtained from the respondent because the evidence for the appellant was that the fixtures posted at the appellant’s shop were based on an erroneous fixture posted on the internet (Exh. P3). The match was played earlier before the appellant posted the fixtures at his shop and the respondent placed his bet. The mutual mistake affected the validity of the contract because at the time the respondent entered the respondent’s shop, the appellant had nothing to sell, the match having already been played.
  6. In the case under consideration, it is clear that the placing and acceptance of the bet was founded on the assumption that the match between Independiente and San Martin was to be played at 10.00 pm on 8th September 2011. As stated a bet is placed on an uncertain outcome. The contract between the plaintiff/respondent and defendant/appellant was founded on the fact that if the match was played at 10.00 pm and the results which were not known at the time of placing the bet were predicted by the respondent, the appellant would pay to the respondent UGX 4.500.000=. The match was played earlier and the results were in public domain. The foundation of the contract had ceased to exist and as such there was no positive contract. Any apparent contract was therefore void ab initio.
  7. It is trite law that a void contract is not enforceable by law. Therefore the learned trial Magistrate erred in holding that the appellant breached the contract. The offer to refund 1.500.000= did not in law validate the contract between the parties. In any case, the Game Concepts Terms and Conditions for Sports Betting (DIDI) posted at the appellant’s shop clearly stated that bets would remain open until fifteen minutes prior to the commencement of the event. And any bets placed after the expiry of such period and any stake received thereon would be refunded. By offering a refund the appellant was fulfilling this part of the terms   and conditions. If a contract becomes impossible of performance by reason of the non-existence of the state of things assumed by both parties as the foundation of the contract, there would be no breach of contract. Therefore the appellant should not have been held liable to pay damages to the respondent. The respondent is therefore not entitled to the sum awarded by the trial court.

 

The appeal was allowed, the orders of the trial magistrate set aside and the appellant awarded half of the costs of the appeal and the court below.