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CLAIM NOT ASKED FOR

Dictum

It is trite law that the Court should not grant what was not asked for or claimed by a party to an action. – Uwaifo JSC. Ekpanya v. Akpan (1988)

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TERMS OF SETTLEMENT MUST RELATE TO PLAINTIFFS CLAIM BEFORE IT CAN BE ENFORCED

I respectfully share the same view with the learned counsel for the 2nd – 14th respondents that jurisdiction of the court to enter judgment in accordance with the terms of settlement reached by parties is circumscribed by the claims filed before the court. If the terms of settlement are not within the purview of the plaintiff’s claim, it will be difficult for the court to allow filling of the terms, which will form the basis of the court judgment. The judgment of the court must reflect the claims before the court. This is so because it is a well settled principle that the court has no jurisdiction to grant a relief that has not been claimed.

— S. Galadima, JCA. Jadesimi & Anor. v. Egbe (2003)

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A REPLY TO STATEMENT OF DEFENCE MUST NOT CONTAIN ANY NEW CLAIM

Adeniji v. Fetuga (1990) 5 WLR (Pt. 150) 375 this Court per Akanbi J.C.A. (as he then was) held thus:- “A reply is the Plaintiff’s answer or response to any issue raised by the Defendant in his defence and which the Plaintiff seeks to challenge, deny or admit or object to either or ground of law or a mis-statement of the cause of action and it is not permissible in a reply to the defence to raise a new cause of action not set out in the writ of summons, for a Plaintiff must not in his reply make any allegation of fact or raise any new ground of claim different from what is contained in his statement of claim.”

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WHEN MAIN CLAIM IS GRANTED, ALTERNATIVE CLAIM CANNOT BE GRANTED

When a party as in this case, the Plaintiff/1st Respondent made claims the in alternative, she is saying that she wants either of her reliefs. So any of the claims granted suffices for the purpose of satisfying her claim. When a Court grants the main claim, the alternative claim would no longer be considered. When the main claim fails, the alternative claim must be considered, and if found proved the Court should grant it as the Court of Appeal did in this Appeal.

— O. Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Bakari v. Ogundipe (2020) – SC.514/2015

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IT IS FROM THE WRIT AND STATEMENT OF CLAIM THAT THE CLAIMANT’S CASE IS KNOWN

The cause of action is donated by the writ of summons and statement of claim and it is in those originating processes and any such similar process that a court of law will decipher what the complaint of a litigant before it is. See the decision of this court in Nduka v. Ogbonna (2011) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1227) 153 at 175, paragraphs B – C, Ariwoola JCA succinctly stated the position thus: “In the instant case, the cause of action as clearly shown on the statement of claim is for special and general damages for defamation and malicious prosecution.” The apex court has also reaffirmed this position of the law which has become trite: Hassan v. Aliyu (2010) All FWLR (Pt. 539) 1007, (2010) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1223) 547, wherein Adekeye JSC had this to say at 619, paragraphs G – 4 of the report: “… It is sufficient if prima facie the date of taking the cause of action is disclosed in the writ of summons and statement of claim … The trial court has a duty to confine itself to the pleadings filed by the parties.”

— Danjuma, JCA. Tony Anthony Nig. Ltd & Ors. v. NDIC (CA/L/630/2009 • 25 January 2011)

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NO CLAIM NO AWARD BY COURT

And no court has the power to award to a party what he has not claimed. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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PARTY CANNOT BE GRANTED WHAT HE DID NOT CLAIM

In this regard, the law is long and well settled that where a plaintiff claims, say, a declaration of title to land or whatever, and his claim is dismissed, it will be wrong to grant the declaration to the defendant if he did not ask for it by way of counter-claim. See: Ntiaro v. Akpam 3 N.L.R. 10; Abisi v. Ekwealor (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt. 302) 643 etc. As has been pointed out repeatedly by this and other courts, courts of law are no father Christmas and they must not grant to a party a relief which he has not sought or claimed or which is more than he has claimed. see: Ekpenyong v. Nyong (1975) 2 S.C. 71 at 81-82.

– Iguh JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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