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ASCERTAIN WHEN CAUSE OF ACTION ACCRUED

Dictum

It is also trite that in order to ascertain the time when the cause of action accrued, for the purpose of the limitation law, the courts only looks at the writ of summons and the statement of claim which ordinarily ought to contain averments of facts as to when the wrong committed by the Defendant took place and compare it with the date when the writ of Summons was filed.

– Oseji, JCA. SIFAX v. MIGFO (2015)

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WHAT IS A CAUSE OF ACTION?

Literally, the noun ’cause’ simply means to bring about or effect. A ’cause of action’ invariably denotes a combination (group) of operative facts thereby resulting in one or more bases for suing. In a sense, a cause of action is a factual situation that entitles one person to a remedy in Court from another person. An action brought outside the prescribed period offends against the provision of the section and does not give rise to a cause of action. A cause of action means the factual situation stated by the Plaintiff, if substantiated, entitle him to a remedy against the defendant.

– Saulawa, JSC. Oko v. Ebonyi State (2021)

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DETERMINE A CAUSE OF ACTION

In OPIA v. INEC & ANOR (2014) LPELR-22185(SC) (P. 20, paras. D-F) Per GALADIMA, J.S.C, held thus: ”A cause of action is determined by reference to the plaintiff’s statement of claim. The immediate materials a Court should look at are the Writ of Summons and averments in the statement of claim.”

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AN ILLEGALITY CANNOT BE MADE THE SUBJECT MATTER OF AN ACTION

In Langston vs. Hughes (1813) 1 M&S 593 or 12 Digest 270 at 2214, Ellenborough, C.J., held that: “What is done in contravention of the provisions of an Act of Parliament cannot be made the subject-matter of an action” cited in Bostel Bros. Ltd. vs. Hurlock (1948) 2 All E.R. 312 at 313.

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INTEREST IS THE MEASURING ROD FOR A CAUSE OF ACTION – (ECOWAS Court)

ODAFE OSERADA V. ECOWAS COUNCIL OF MINISTERS, ECOWAS PARLIAMENT & ECOWAS COMMISSION, ECW/CCJ/JUD/01/08 @ 27, the Court held that: “Generally, and from a legal standpoint, the necessity for an Applicant to provide justification of interest in a case is attested to by the adage that where there is no interest, there is no action, and also an interest is the measuring rod for an action. In other words, an application is admissible only when the applicant justifies that he brings a case before a Judge for the purposes of protecting an interest or defending an infringement of such. Such an interest must be direct, personal and certain.”

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DETERMINING THE EXISTENCE OR NONEXISTENCE OF A CAUSE OF ACTION

In determining the existence or non-existence of a cause of action in a suit, the Court is to consider the Writ of Summons and the statement of claim. And what distinguishes a claim which discloses cause of action from the one that does not is that where a statement of claim discloses some reasonable cause of action on the facts alleged in it, it is where the claim has some chances of success and once it raises some issues of law or fact calling for determination by the Court. Put differently, it is irrelevant to consider the weakness of the plaintiff’s claim but whether it raise some questions fit to be decided by a Court. And for a statement of claim to be said to disclose no cause of action it must be such as nobody can understand what claim he is required to meet.

– Shuaibu JCA. Diamond Bank v. Mocok (2019)

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WHAT IS A CAUSE OF ACTION IN LAW

What then is a cause of action in law? Simply put a cause of action refers to those facts which show or give life to a right of action. It is the factual situation which gives a person a right of action. It is only where the claim of the Claimant does not disclose his sufficient interest in the subject matter that it must be terminated in limine by the Court if so moved by the Defendant. See Thomas v. Olufosoye (1986) 1 NSCC 321. See also AG. Federation v. AG Abia State and Ors (2001) FWLR (Pt. 64) 202 @ p. 264; Ndamzu v. Nemson Fishing Enterprises (2000) FWLR (Pt. 7) 1064 @ p. 1072.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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