Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

ADDRESS OF COUNSEL ARE INTEGRAL PART OF THE TRIAL

Dictum

In Obodo v. Olomu (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt.59) 111 at page 121, Belgore, JSC, observed as follows: “Addresses of counsel form part of the case and failure to hear the address of one party, however overwhelming the evidence on the one side, vitiates the trial because in many cases, it is after the addresses that one finds the law on the issue fought not in favour of the evidence adduced … By holding that the decision could not have been different if all the address were before the trial court, the Court of Appeal was attempting to read the mind of the trial Judge. He heard the evidence and saw the witnesses, the addresses might have thrown a new light on his view on the evidence. For a totality of a case heard entails not only the evidence but also the addresses.” At pages 123 and124, Obaseki, JSC, stated:- “The hearing of addresses by every court established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is recognised by the constitution. It is to be given before judgment. See section 258 (1) – “Its beneficial effect and impact on the merit of the case is enormous and unquantifiable. The value is immense and its assistance to the Judge in arriving at just and proper decision though dependent on the quality of the address cannot be denied … until the learned trial Judge’s mind is exposed to an address, no one can say what effect it will have on his mind. It cannot be said that in the light of the above, the failure to hear the address of counsel for the plaintiff has not occasioned a miscarriage of justice. It certainly has not served the interest of justice. Miscarriage of justice vitiates a judgment and renders it a nullity.”

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

FINAL ADDRESS IS AN IMPORTANT STAGE BEFORE JUDGEMENT DELIVERY

There is no gainsaying the fact that the provision donates to litigating parties the right to render final addresses at the closure of evidence and before judgment. Final address connotes “the last or ultimate speech or submission made to the Court in respect of issue before it, before the delivery of judgment. It is the last address before the delivery of judgment”. see Ijebu-Ode L.G. v. Adedeji Balogun & Co. (1991) 1 NWLR (Pt. 166) 136 at 156, per Karibi-Whyte, JSC, Sodipo v. Lemminkainen Oy (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt. 8) 547; Mustapha v. Governor of Lagos State (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt. 58) 539; Kalu v. State (2017) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1586) 522. The caustic effect of denial of addresses to parties vis-a-vis proceedings is wrapped in Ndu v. State (1990) 7 NWLR (Pt. 164) 550, (1990) 21 NSCC (Pt. 3) 505. Therein Akpata, JSC, succinctly, stated: It is generally accepted that the hearing of addresses from counsel before delivery of judgment is an important exercise in judicial proceedings in our Courts. The entire proceedings may be declared a nullity if a counsel is denied the right to address the Court at the close of evidence. See also, Obodo v. Olomu (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 59) 111/(1987) 2 NSCC, vol. 18, 824 at 831; Niger Construction Co. Ltd. v. Okugbeni (1987) 11/12 SCNJ 113/(1987) 4 NWLR (Pt. 67) 787; Ayisa v. Akanji (1995) 7 NWLR (Pt. 406) 129; Kalu v. State (supra).

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

Was this dictum helpful?

FINAL ADDRESS OF COUNSEL IS ALWAYS RELEVANT

Learned counsel for the respondent had argued that a trial Judge can in certain circumstances dispense with final addresses and that one of such circumstances is where, as in this case, the facts are straightforward and in the main not in dispute. Reference was made to: Niger Construction Company Ltd. v. Okugbeni (1987) 11/12 SCNJ 135 at 139; Donatus Ndu v. The State (1990) 12 SCNJ 50 at 60. Nemi and Ors. v. The State (1994) 10 SCNJ 1. He submitted that in the present case, the facts are straightforward and that the evidence of the plaintiff is undisputed and that addresses in the circumstances would have been a mere formality and that there is nothing to show that the appellantsuffered a miscarriage of justice as a result of the counsel not addressing the court. I have read the cases cited by the respondent’s counsel and it appears to me that those cases are not in line with the current decisions of the Supreme Court and this court as well. This case is not straightforward as the respondent’s counsel had submitted. I must observe that a trial court does not call for addresses just for a fun or as a matter of course. An address is a part and parcel of the trial and its immense and enormous value is unquantifiable and its absence can tilt the balance of the trial court’s judgment as much as the delivery of an address after the conclusion of evidence can. It will be therefore erroneous on the part of the court to hold that a case is straightforward, that an address is not necessary or that even if an address was delivered, that the decision could not be different as this is nothing more than a mere speculation.

— Opene JCA. United Bank for Africa (UBA) v. Samuel Igelle Ujor (CA/C/134/99, 20 FEB 2001)

Was this dictum helpful?

WHEN DELIBERATION HAS ALREADY BEGUN, ADDRESSES BY COUNSEL ARE NOT FINAL ADDRESS

An invitation by the court to address it on points raised by the court during the deliberation or consideration of the judgment does not, in my view, come within the contemplation of evidence and final addresses in section 258(1) of the 1979 Constitution.

— Obaseki, JSC. Odi v Osafile (1985) – SC.144/1983

Was this dictum helpful?

AIM OF FILING WRITTEN ADDRESS

It must be realised that the aim of filing written addresses in court, is primarily to save time and obviate unnecessary delay in the administration of justice. The reverse certainly is the end result if an order to file addresses is made and it is insisted that after filing it learned counsel will have to appear to present it viva voce. That obviously cannot be a measure meant to save time and enhance speedy trial.

– GWAR v. ADOLE (2002) JELR 44626 (CA)

Was this dictum helpful?

FINAL ADDRESS CANNOT MAKE UP FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE

It is not clear to me why the above submission of senior counsel to the respondent has come up. There is no evidence on record that Russal of Russia has taken possession of ALSCON and now fully operates it. Such forms part of address which is ordinarily designed to assist the court. It is not evidence and no fine speech in an address can make up for lack of evidence to prove or establish a fact or else disprove and demolish a point in issue. See: Niger construction Ltd. v. Okugbeni (1987) 4 NWLR (pt. 67) 738 at page 792.

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

Was this dictum helpful?

CASES ARE NOT DECIDED ON FINAL ADDRESSES BUT ON EVIDENCE – FINAL ADDRESS MERELY ASSIST THE COURT

In the case of Michika Local Government vs. National Population commission (1998) 11 NWLR Part 573 page 201, decided by the Court of Appeal (Jos Division), the question for determination was inter alia: Whether the failure of the Census Tribunal to call on the appellant’s Counsel to address the Tribunal before delivering its judgment, amounted to a breach of fair hearing. The Court of Appeal, per Edozie, J.C.A. had this to say at page 212 paragraphs E – G and ratio 5. “On Relevance of addresses of Counsel, addresses of counsel are designed to assist the court. Cases are normally not decided on addresses but on credible evidence. Thus, no amount of brilliance in a final address can make up for the lack of evidence to prove and establish or to disprove and demolish points in issue. When, therefore, facts are straight forward and in the main not in dispute, the trial court could be free to dispense with final address. In the instant case, no miscarriage of justice was occasioned as the respondent did not address the tribunal. Also, the factual issue before the tribunal can be effectually determined without addresses of counsel. The appellant’s complaint about denial of fair hearing is not well founded.”

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.