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REQUIREMENTS FOR ESTOPPEL PER REM JUDICATA

Dictum

Before a judgment of a court can qualify as an estoppel per rem judicata and in order to bind a party; the following conditions must be satisfied: a) The judgment must be valid and subsisting; b) the parties in that judgment must be the same as the parties (either by themselves or their privies) in the subsequent proceedings; c) the subject-matter must be the same; and d) the issue or cause (in issue estoppel or cause of action estoppel as the case may be decided in the earlier proceedings must have arisen again in the later proceedings.

— Adeyemo v. Ida & Ors. (1998) – CA/1/6/92

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MAKING A PERSON BELIEVE IN A STATE OF THINGS CREATES ESTOPPEL

Joe Iga & Ors v. Ezekiel Amakiri & Ors. (1976) 11 S.C 1, this court stated at pp.12-13: “If a man by his words or conduct willfully endeavours to cause another to believe in a certain state of things which the first knows to be false and if the second believes in such state of things and acts upon the belief, he who knowingly made the false statement is estopped from averring afterwards that such a state of things does not exist at the time; again, if a man either in express terms or by conduct, makes representation to another of the existence of a state of facts which he intends to be acted upon in a certain way, in the belief of the existence of such a state of facts, to the damage of him who so believes and acts, the first is estopped from denying the existence of such a state of facts. Thirdly, if a man whatever his real meaning may be, so conducts himself that a reasonable man would take his conduct to mean a certain representation of facts and that it was a true representation, and that the latter was intended to act upon it in a particular way, and he with such belief, does act in that way to his damage, the first is estopped from denying the facts as represented.”

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WHEN ESTOPPEL PER REM JUDICATAM CAN SUCCEED

Judicial authorities have enunciated the principles which are well pronounced in the case of Makun V. F.U.T. Minna (supra) wherein this court re-iterated that, for a plea of estoppel per rem judicatam to succeed, the party relying thereon must establish the following requirements or pre-conditions namely:- (a) That the parties or their privies are the same in both the previous and the present proceeding. (b) That the claim or issues in dispute in both actions are the same. (c) That the res or the subject matter of litigation in the two cases is the same. (d) That the decision relied upon to support the plea of estoppel per rem judicatam is valid, subsisting and final. (e) That the court that gave the previous decision relied upon to sustain the plea is a court of competent jurisdiction. It has also been held severally by this court that, unless all the above constitutional elements or requirements of the doctrine are fully established, the plea of estoppel per rem judicatam cannot sustain. See also the decisions in Yoye V. Olalode (1974) 10 SC 209; Alase V. Olori-Ilu (1965) NMLR 66; Fadiora V. Gbadebo (1978) 3 SC 219 and Udo V. Obot (1989) 1 SC (Pt. 1) 64.

— C.B. Ogunbiyi, JSC. Ogbolosingha v. B.S.I.E.C. (2015) – SC.165/2013

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STANDING BY TO SEE YOUR BATTLE FOUGHT

Where any person having an interest may make himself a party to a suit by intervening and knowing what was passing, was content to stand by and see his battle fought by somebody else in the same interest, he should be bound by the result, and not be allowed to reopen the case.

– Iguh, JSC. Clay v. Aina (1997)

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ESTOPPEL IS A SHIELD AND NOT A SWORD – NOTHING LIKE TITLE BY ESTOPPEL

The estoppel put an impediment on its way, Estoppel is thus a shield not a sword; it’s role is defensive not offensive. To use the language of naval warfare, an estoppel must always be either a mine layer or a mine sweeper; it can never be a capital unit. There is nothing like title by estoppel as an estoppel gives no title to that which is the subject matter of the estoppel.

– Nnamani JSC. Gbadamosi v. Bello (1985)

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WHERE BY WORDS OR CONDUCT A PARTY HAS MADE THE OTHER PARTY CHANGE HIS STANCE

The position of the law still remains the same. It is that where by words or conduct, a party to a transaction freely makes to the other an unambiguous promise or assurance which is intended to affect the legal relations between them and the former acts upon it by altering his position to his detriment, the party making the promise of assurance will not be permitted to act inconsistently with it. This is as pronounced in Central London Property Trust Ltd. v. High Trees House Ltd. (1947) K.B. 130. It has remained good law for a long time now. I approve same without any reservation.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. BFI v. Bureau PE (2012) – SC.12/2008

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INGREDIENTS FOR ISSUE ESTOPPEL TO APPLY

It is trite law that for issue estoppel to apply the following ingredients must be present: 1. The parties must be the same in the previous and present actions; 2. The same question that was decided in the previous action must arise in the present action in respect of the same subject matter; and 3. That question must be a final decision of a competent court. See Ebba v. Ogodo (2000) 10 NWLR (Pt. 675) S.C. 387.

— R.O. Nwodo, JCA. Teleglobe v 21st Century Tech. (2008) – CA/L/694/2006

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