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UNSIGNED DOCUMENT IS A WORTHLESS PIECE OF PAPER

Dictum

In the case of Uzokwelu v. PDP & Ors [2018] LPELR- 43737CA, The law is settled that an unsigned document is a worthless paper. It is inadmissible and where admitted, it cannot be relied upon by the Court to resolve any controversy between the parties as no weight or probative value can be attached to an unsigned document.

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IF IT CANNOT BE SAID WHO SIGNED A PROCESS, THE PROCESS IS INCURABLY BAD

RHODES-VIVOUR, JSC in SLB CONSORTIUM v NNPC (2011) 9 NWLR (PT. 1252) P. 317 opined that: “Once it cannot be said who signed a process, it is incurably bad and rules of Court that seem to provide a remedy are of no use as a rule cannot override the law (i.e the Legal Practitioners Act)”

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NO NEED TO MARK NAME OF LEGAL PRACTITIONER IF WHO SIGNED THE PROCESS IS LEGIBLE

Also, Kekere-Ekun JSC went further on this issue in Williams v Adold/Stamm Int’l (Nig.) Ltd. (2017) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1560) Pg. 1 at 19-20, where his Lordship held that; “A process prepared and filed by a legal practitioner must be signed by the legal practitioner, and it is sufficient signature if the legal practitioner simply writes his own name over and above the name of his firm where he carries out his practice. The grouse of the respondents appeared to be that there was no mark beside either of the two names to identify which of them signed the process however the name Ladi Williams, though handwritten, was very clear and legible. The court was satisfied that there was no doubt as to who signed the process and that he is a legal practitioner whose name is on the roll. The omission to place a tick beside the name of Chief Ladi Rotimi Williams SAN did not mislead the respondents or the court as to who signed the process and such omission cannot invalidate it.”

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PROCESS SIGNED BY A FIRM OF LEGAL PRACTITIONERS IS NOT VALID IN LAW

The said section 573(1) of Companies and Allied Matters Act Provides as follows:- ‘Every individual firm or corporation having a place of business in Nigeria and carrying on business under a business name shall be registered in the manner provided in this part of this Act The above is not an authority that can be relied upon to uphold the view that a process signed and filed by a firm of legal practitioners which has no live is valid in law. The general provision of the law as in section 573(1) of Companies and Allied Matters Act is subject to the specific provisions of section 2(1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act. See: FMBN v. Olloh (2002) 4 SC (Pt. 11) 177 at 122-123; Kraps Thompson Org.v. NIPSS (2004) 5 SC (Pt.1) 16 at 20-21.

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

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UNSIGNED DOCUMENTS NOT ADMISSIBLE

The Supreme Court in Omega Bank (Nig) Plc v. O.B.C. Ltd. [2005] 8 NWLR (Part 928) 547 at 587 Paragraphs C – D per Tobi, JSC (as he then was) the Apex Court held inter alia that: “… It is my view that where a document is not signed, it may not be admitted in evidence. Even if it is admitted in evidence, the Court should not attach any probative value to it. This is because a document which is not signed has no origin in terms of its maker….at page 582 Paragraph A, His Lordship, Tobi, JSC of blessed memory further emphasized that:” A document which is not signed does not have any efficacy in law. As held in the cases examined, the document is worthless and a worthless document cannot be efficacious…”

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