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COURTS NOW CONCERNED WITH REAL JUSTICE NOT TECHNICALITIES

Dictum

Courts these days are concerned with real justice and not technical justice. It would be clear technical justice to hold that the suit in the instant case is statute barred when it was commenced within time and with judgments in favour of the the Respondent in the two Lower Courts but at the Supreme Court was struck out on the ground of lack of jurisdiction by the Federal High Court.

– Iyizoba, JCA. SIFAX v. MIGFO (2015)

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TECHNICALITY IS A HARMLESS ERROR

Technicality means a harmless error/mistake that does not go to the root of a case, see Olley v. Tunji (2013) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1362) 275. The “spirit of justice does not reside in form and formalities, nor in technicalities,” see Bello v. A.-G., Oyo State (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 45) 828 at 886, per Oputa, JSC; Omisore v. Aregbesola (2015) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1482) 205. Substantial justice and technical justice, arch enemies in adjudication, had been in a protracted imaginary battle on which to win and arrest the attention of the Nigerian Courts. However, in the process of the juridical duel, the case-law, rightly, intervened and slaughtered technicality and buried it deeply under the temple of substantial justice. To accede to the appellant’s request will be akin to resurrecting the deceased technicality.

— O.F. Ogbuinya JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc v. Longterm Global Cap. Ltd. & Ors. (September 20 2021, ca/l/1093/2017)

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LONG GONE ARE THE HEYDAYS OF TECHNICALITY

These days the Courts should or ought to concern themselves less with mere technicality and concern themselves more with matters of real substance and substantial issues in contention between the parties in order to render substantial justice to them. Long gone are the heydays of technicality riding roughshod over substantial justice. The Courts have since charted a new path aimed at consolidating substantial justice between the parties and would sparingly accord mere technicality, just for its own sake, any pride of place except in very well deserving cases. Thus, the stance of the Court below, and sought to be justified in this appeal by the learned counsel for the 1st Respondent under issue five, resonates more with undue technicality than with substance and justice. The law nowadays lays more emphasis on the overriding need to render substantial justice over and above technical justice by the Courts. Thus, in the legal jurisprudence in Nigeria today, substantial justice is king.

– B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Ganiyu v. Oshoakpemhe & Ors. (2021) – CA/B/12A/2021

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COURTS DO NOT DECIDE CASES ON TECHNICALITIES

See MAKERI SMELTING CO. LTD. VS. ACCESS BANK (NIG.) PLC (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt.766) 447 at 476-477. “The attitude of the Court has since changed against deciding cases on mere technicalities. The attitude of the Courts now is that cases should always be decided, wherever possible on merit. Blunders must take place from time to time, and it is unjust to hold that because a blunder has been committed, the party blundering is to incur the penalty of not having the dispute between him and his adversary determined upon the merits.”

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TECHNICAL VS SUBSTANTIVE JUSTICE

There is also the view of some counsel that the decision in Okafor v. Nweke had to do with technical justice. I agree that the age of technical justice is gone. The current vogue is substantial justice. See: Dada v. Dosumu (2006) 12 PNJSC 115. But substantial justice can only be attained not by bending the law but by applying it as it is; not as it ought to be. There is nothing technical in applying the provisions of sections 2(1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act as it is drafted by the Legislature. The law should not be bent to suit the whims and caprices of the parties/counsel. One should not talk of technicality when a substantive provision of the law is rightly invoked.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. FBN v. Maiwada (2012) – SC.269/2005

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