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COMMENCING BY ORIGINATING SUMMONS OR BY WRIT OF SUMMONS

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As demonstrated above, Originating Summons is, particularly, employed in commencing a suit when what is in dispute is the mere construction of documents or interpretation of law in respect of which pleadings are unnecessary or where there is no real dispute as to facts between the parties, G. F. Harwood, Odger’s Principles of Pleadings and Practice in Civil Actions (Twentieth Ed) (New Delhi – India: Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd, 2010) 352; F. Nwadialo, Civil Procedure in Nigeria (Lagos: University of Lagos Press, 2000) 211; Arjay Ltd and Ors v A. M. S. Ltd (2003) LPELR -555 (SC) … The situation is different in a suit commenced by Writ of Summons where the facts are regarded as holding a pride of place and the fountain head of the law in the sense that the facts lead to a legal decision on the matter. That is not the position in proceedings commenced by Originating Summons, where facts do not play a central role but an infinitesimal role. On the distinction between Originating Summons and Writ of Summons, see the following cases: Dapianlong v. Dariye (supra); Keyamo v. House of Assembly, Lagos State [2002] 18 NWLR (pt. 799) 605; Director, SSS v. Agbakoba [1999] 3 NWLR (pt. 595) 314; Famfa Oil Ltd v. Attorney-General, Federation and Anor [2003] 18 NWLR (pt. 852) 453; Inakoju v. Adeleke (supra); and Attorney-General, Adamawa State and Ors v. Attorney-General, Federation and Ors (2005) LPELR- 602 (SC).

— C.C. Nweze, JSC. APC v. Sheriff (2023) – SC/CV/1689/2022

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CONTROVERSIAL CASES

The principle has become trite that the originating summons procedure is not for causes in which facts remain hostile and in conflict. The procedure is ideal for the determination of short and straight forward questions of construction and interpretation of documents or statutes. It is never the applicable procedure in controversial cases where the facts on which the court is invited to construe or interpret the document or legislation in relation to remain violently in conflict. See also Famfa Oil Limited v. AG of the Federation & anor [2003] LPELR-1239(SC); [2003] 18 NWLR (Pt. 852) 453.

Olatunji v UBER (2018) – NICN/LA/546/2017

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CLAIM DETERMINES IF AN ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS APPROPRIATE

From the above therefore, the first duty of a trial judge, where action are begun or initiated by means of an originating summons procedure, is to examine the claim before him, and then to ascertain whether the procedure in originating summons was suitable or appropriate to the action. This first step, is sine qua-non to his assuming jurisdiction on the matter.

– Bage JCA. Ayetobi v. Taiwo (2014)

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WHERE ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS TO BE USED

The law is already trite that, before a proceeding can be commenced by originating summons, the construction of a written law, or instrument made there under or deed or will or contract or other document must be in issue. It means that in any of such cases certain questions must have arisen for determination with reference to such document and it is these questions and the accompanying reliefs or prayers that embody the issues for determination in the action.

– Bage JCA. Ayetobi v. Taiwo (2014)

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS NEEDED WHERE NO DISPUTE OF FACT

NATIONAL BANK OF NIG VS. ALAKIJA & ANOR (1978) 2 L.R.N. 78, I had cause to review the whole history of originating summons and then held: Originating Summons should only be applicable in such circumstances as where there is no dispute on question of fact or (even) the likelihood of such dispute. “[page 86 ibid) originating summons is reserved for issues like the determination of short question of construction and not matters of such controversy that the justice of the case would demand the settling of Pleadings.”

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REASON FOR LEAVE TO BE OBTAINED BEFORE ISSUE OF ORIGINATING SUMMONS TO BE SERVED OUTSIDE JURISDICTION

In my opinion it makes for a better understanding and application of our rules to appreciate the raisons d’etre which underlie their prescription. In this regard, the raison d’etre of the rule that leave should be obtained before the issue of an originating summons to be served out of the jurisdiction of the court is well put in Halsbury’s Laws of England (Vol. 37) (4th Edition) at para 171 as follows: ‘Service out of the jurisdiction is recognised as the exercise by the English court of judicial power over a foreigner who owes no allegiance to the United Kingdom or over a person who is resident or domiciled out of the jurisdiction, but is nevertheless called upon to contest claims made against him in England and Wales. However, it is generally accepted that, in accordance with the comity of nations, each nation is entitled, in circumstances permitted by its own laws, to exercise judicial power over persons in other countries; but, of course, the exercise of such sovereign power by the issue and service of judicial process over persons in another country is prima facie an infringement of the sovereignty of the other country.

— O. Ayoola, JSC. Carribean v NNPC (2002) – SC.74/1993

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS CANNOT BE USED WHERE FACTS ARE CONTENTIOUS

OBASANYA v. BABAFEMI (2000) 23 WRN (Pt.689) 1 at 17 stated again as follows: “Where the facts are controversial or contentious and cannot be ascertained without evidence being adduced, originating summons should not be appropriately used; and if used it should be discountenanced. See N. B. N. & ANOR VS. ALAKIJA (1978) 2 LRN 78 see also DOHERTY VS. DOHERTY (1964) N.M.L.R. 144, UNILAG VS. AIGORO (1991) 3 NWLR (Pt.179) 367; ANATOGU Vs. ANATOGU (1997) 9. The provision of Order 3 Rule 2 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 1994 (supra) quite clearly provides that the originating summons procedure is only suitable for cases where the sole or principle question is one of construction of document. In the construction of such documents, law or instruments no evidence is required or adduced. Facts constituting an allegation of fraud by their very nature are controversial.”

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