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ENDS OF JUSTICE SUPERCEDES MODE OF ACTION COMMENCEMENT

Dictum

Wrong commencement of action does not vitiate it, if the ends of justice would be compromised.

– Yahaya, JCA. Petroleum Resources v. SPDC (2021)

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THE LAW IS ON THE SUCCESSFUL PARTY’S SIDE

Generally, the law is on the side of the successful party, to assist him to reap the benefit(s) of the judgment. See NZERIBE V. DAVE ENGINEERING CO. LTD. (1994) 9 SCNJ 161.

— I.G. Mbaba, JCA. Ogunleye v. Aina (2012) – CA/IL/22/2011

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FOR REVERSAL OF AN ERROR, A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE MUST HAVE OCCURED

Again to be said is that it is not every error of law that is committed by a trial or appellate Court that justifies the reversal of a judgment. For a reversal to take place, the error must have occasioned a miscarriage of justice as it was material in the decision reached.

– M. Peter-Odili JSC. Adegbanke v. Ojelabi (2021)

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MEANING OF MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

The decision is not at large but is carefully qualified by the expression “miscarriage of justice”. The court used the expression twice. Miscarriage of justice is simply justice miscarried. I do not think I have said much. I should go further to say that miscarriage of justice is failure of justice. It is the failure on the part of the court to do justice. It is justice misapplied, misappreciated or misappropriated. It is an ill conduct on the part of the court which amounts to injustice. See Onagoruwa v. The State (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt. 303) 49. Miscarriage of justice arises in a decision or actcome of legal proceedings that is prejudicial or inconsistent with substantial right of a party. See Joshua v. The State (2000) 5 NWLR (pt. 658) 591; Sanusi v. Ameyogun (1992) 4 NWLR (Pt. 237) 527.

— Niki Tobi JSC. Pam & Anor. V Mohammed (2008) – SC.238/2007

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AN ERROR OF LAW COMPLAINED OF MUST HAVE CAUSED A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

OLADEJO ADEWUYI AJUWON & ORS VS FADELE AKANNI & ORS (1993) 12 SCNJ 32 AT 52 this Court held “It is not every error of law that is committed by a trial or appellate Court that justifies the reversal of a judgment. An appellant, to secure the reversal of a judgment, must further establish that the error of law complained of did in fact occasion a miscarriage of justice and/or substantially affected the result of the decision. An error in law which has occasioned no miscarriage of justice is immaterial and may not affect the final decision of a Court. This is because what an Appeal Court has to decide is whether the decision of judge was right and not whether his reasons were, and a misdirection that does not occasion injustice is immaterial. The error in law in applying the doctrine of lis pendens complained of did not occasion any miscarriage of justice. The erroneous application of the doctrine of lis pendens notwithstanding, there was no other course that was open to the Court of Appeal in the appeal than to invalidate the sale in issue and to dismiss the appeal before it”.

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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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WHAT IS MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE?

Miscarriage of justice connotes decision or outcome of legal proceeding that is prejudicial or inconsistent with the substantial rights of the party. Miscarriage of justice means a reasonable probability of more favourable outcome of the case for the party alleging it. Miscarriage of justice is injustice done to the party alleging it. The burden of proof is on the party alleging that the justice has been miscarried.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Gbadamosi v. Dairo (2007)

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