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CASES ARE AUTHORITIES FOR WHAT THEY DECIDE

Dictum

It is trite law that cases are authorities for what they decide such, that it is not helpful to flog authorities where the facts and circumstances of cases are different. See PDP VS INEC (2018) LPELR-44373 (SC) AND OLLEY VS TUNJI (2015) 10 NWLR (PT. 1362) 374.

— A. Osadebay, J. APC v INEC & Ors. (EPT/KN/GOV/01/2023, 20th Day of September, 2023)

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CASES SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN TO APPLY WHERE THE FACTS ARE DIFFERENT

It is an age-old principle that it is the facts and circumstances of each case that determines judicial authorities that Counsel ought to cite in support of their argument Adegoke Motors v. Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (109) 250, S.A.P. Ltd v. Min., Petroleum Resources (2018) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1616) 391. This principle is time-tested to...

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PREREQUISITE FOR CITING A CASE AS AN AUTHORITY

“The law is trite that a case is only an authority for what it decides, and nothing more. Thus, a case cited as an authority must be considered and utilized in light of its own peculiar facts and circumstances.” PER J.H. Sankey, J.C.A. Gonimi v. Surundi (2022) – CA/G/7/2022 Was this dictum helpful? Yes 1...

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A CASE PRECEDENT PROPERLY DISTINGUISHED CANNOT APPLY IN PRESENT CASE

Where the reliance on a precedent case is challenged in a proceedings on the basis that the facts are distinguishable from those of the present case, the court must determine if the facts of the two cases are the same or not. It cannot gloss over that issue and proceed to simply rely on the...

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STARE DECISIS MAKES THE LAW CERTAIN

It is a policy of Courts to stand by established precedent for the certainty of the law. Agreed, no two cases have identical facts. Where, however, the facts of the decided case are substantially the same with the case at hand, the principle of stare decisis enjoins a Court to follow the earlier judicial decisions...

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THERE ARE TIMES WHEN DEPARTURE FROM PRECEDENT IS IN THE INTEREST OF THE LAW

✓ In Bucknor Maclean v. Inlaks Limited (1980) 8-11 S.C. 1, the decisions overruled were clearly shown to become vehicles of injustice and this Court could not allow such state of affairs to continue and my late learned brother, Idigbe, J.S.C. fully gave expression to this when reading the lead judgment at page 25, he said. “I share the view of Lord Morris in Conway v. Rimmer that “though precedent is an indispensable foundation on which to decide what is the law, there may be times when a departure from precedent is in the interest of justice and the proper development of the law.” . . . I see no more justification for perpetuating recent error than for retaining any uncorrected error in much older decisions of this court.”

✓ In Golak Nath v. State of Punjab Air (1967) S.C. 1643, Subba R. CJ. (on behalf of himself, Shah, Sikri, Shelat and Vaidialingam, JJ. said at page 1670: “A final appeal is made to us that we shall not take a different view as the decision in Sankari Prasads case (1952) SCR 89-AIR 1951 S.C. 458 held the field for many years. While ordinarily this court will be reluctant to reverse its previous decisions, it is its duty in the constitutional field to correct itself as early for otherwise the future progress of the country and the happiness of the people will be at stake. As we are convinced that the decision in Sankari Prasad’s case 1952 SCR 89-(AIR 1951 S.C. 458) is wrong it is pre-eminently a typical case where the court should overrule it.

✓ Instances of this are to be found in the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. In Planny v. Ferguson (1896) 163 V.S. 537, the Court, in a segregation case, held that once, in public facilities accommodation was separate but equal it was constitutional to compel segregation of races in the use thereof. In Brown v. Topeka (1954) 347 V.S. 483, that is sixty years later, the court gave a decision in direct opposition to its view in Planny v. Ferguson. Times had changed and the court’s view was that attitude must change with them.

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