A consequential order is an order founded on the claim of the successful party. In other words, a consequential order is one which is not merely incidental to a decision properly made, but one which is merely to give effect to that decision. – Karibe-Whyte JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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In Mercantile Investment & General Trust Co. v. River Plate Trust, Loan & Agency Co. (1894)1 Ch 578 at 595 said the learned Judge: “Moreover, if the claim of the plaintiff company could be regarded as one affecting land, notwithstanding that no registration of that claim had been made in Mexico, which alone could validly bind the land there, then the English Company would be entitled to say that they were purchasers of the land prior to that action, notwithstanding that their title may also not have been perfected by registration. A prior purchaser of land cannot be estopped as being privy in estate by a judgment obtained in an action against the vendor commenced after the purchase.”

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It is the law that a ruling or judgment of the court remains valid until it is set aside by an appellate court. The Ruling of Taiwo, J. of the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti of 13/12/16 defroze the account of Ayodele Fayose from which the sum of N75,000,000.00 (Seventy Five Million Naira) being the professional fees paid to the Respondent for services rendered remains the extant decision. The said decision which the Appellant alleged to be perverse has not been set aside, it therefore remains the law, valid and binding, vacating an earlier order made by Idris, J. of the Lagos Division was the extant law as at the time the payment of N75,000,000.00 was made to the Respondent for services rendered. As rightly argued by the learned counsel to the Respondent, at the time the order was made by the lower court defreezing the account of the Respondent’s Chambers, the decision of Taiwo, J. was valid and subsisting until set aside by an appeal court or by the lower court itself if it acted without jurisdiction or in the absence of an aggrieved party. See, ROSSEK & ORS VS. ACB LTD & ORS (1993) LPELR – 2955 (SC) P. 104, PARAS. A – D, OKEZIE VICTOR IKPEAZU VS. ALEX OTTI & ORS (2016) LPELR – 40055 (SC) P. 20, PARAS. A – C, FIDELITY BANK VS. THE M.T. TABORA & ORS (2018) LPELR – 44504 (SC) PP. 6 – 14, PARAS. B – D. In OJIAKO & ORS VS. OGUEZE & ORS (1962) LPELR – 25 116 (SC) P. 31 PARAS. D – E, his lordship Brett, JSC on the validity of a subsisting judgment held that: “Where no question of nullity arises, once the judgment of any competent court is perfected it is valid until set aside by competent authority, and there can be no presumption against the validity of such a judgment.” See, also BEMDOO MINDI VS. THE STATE (2020) LPELR – 52897 (SC) P. 53, PARAS. B – E.

— C.N. Uwa, JCA.FRN v Ozekhome (2021) – CA/L/174/19

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There is no doubt, that if a Court of Appeal fails to deliver its judgment within three months, such failure contravenes this provision. Therefore, any judgment becomes null and void if delivered outside the time limit. The question is, who should be blamed since the appellants or the respondents as the case may be, are not responsible for the lateness of the Court of Appeal in delivering its judgment. Where, therefore, should the blame lie, in what appears to be the wrong doing of a panel of judges There is no provision in the law as to who will bear the responsibility for the cost of re-hearing. It therefore appears, that parties to a suit are being punished for the wrong doing which they are not responsible for. It is in this sense that counsel argued forcibly that the construction of the relevant section should not be mandatory but directory. If one accepts the argument that the provision of section 258(1) of the 1979 Constitution is directory, then the question is as to what happens to the judgment delivered in breach of it. Definitely, the judgment violates the provision of the Constitution, because it was delivered out of time. The judgment, therefore, is null and void. The next question is as to what happens to the parties and the judges Except that the judgment becomes null and void, the judges do not suffer any liability. It is quite clear that there is no provision for damnifying judges for such a breach. This section of the Constitution has been specially promulgated to prevent rather undue delayed judgment, which, being capable of being set aside, does not benefit either party to the case or on appeal. When any judgment is unnecessarily delayed, it is not possible for the court of trial to retain observations of the witnesses, and the freshness of the demeanour of a witness is lost. It is, therefore, to save such undue delay that this particular provision has been made. Often in the past, a judgment is set aside and the case is remitted for retrial or re-hearing, because the delay is so long that a trial judge would have lost advantage of observation of a witness and sometimes forgets the sequence. It is the duty of all judges to apply the laws strictly, but it will not be right of them to attempt to wriggle out of such application and defeat its object. It is, therefore, essential that all courts should see to the proper compliance with section 258 (1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1979. Learned counsel for the appellant emphasised that directory construction should be preferred, because of the helplessness of parties. In a judgment given in violation of section 258(1), one party gains and the other loses. It is only fair that parties be restored to their original status when ordering re-hearing. The purpose of section 258(1) is to give some certainty as to the law determining rights of parties. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to either the appellant or the respondent that a court, which determines an appeal, does so within the required period. That will lead to the enhancement of the court and the judiciary.

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

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It is now beyond argument that a court is not a Father Christmas and as such does not award a party that which the said party did not ask for. Put differently, a court does not go outside the prayers of the parties to make orders not contemplated by them. See Yaro v. Arewa Const. Ltd. (supra). However, where the order, though not expressly asked for, is necessary, in the circumstance of the case to give effect to the final Judgment of the court, the court will be justified to make such order. Such an order is usually called a consequential order which must flow from the Judgment of the court.

— J.I. Okoro, JCA. Mudasiru & Ors. v Abdullahi & Ors. (2011) – CA/L/58/2010

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In Dike & Ors v. Nzeka II & Ors (1986) LPELR – 945 (SC), the Supreme Court held thusly – “It is therefore necessary to have a clear idea of the distinction between a judgment tin rem and a judgment in personam. A judgment is said to be in rem when it is an adjudication pronounced upon the Status of some particular thing or subject matter by a tribunal having the jurisdiction and the competence to pronounce on that Status. Such a judgment is usually and invariably founded on proceedings instituted against or on something or subject-matter whose status or condition is to be determined. It is thus a solemn declaration on the status of some persons or thing. It is therefore binding on all persons in so far as their interests in the status of the property or person are concerned. That is why a judgment in rem is a judgment contra mundum binding on the whole world – parties as well as nonparties. A judgment in personam, on the other hand, is on an entirely different footing. It is a judgment against a particular person as distinguished from a judgment declaring the status of a particular person or thing. A judgment in personam will be more accurately called a judgment inter partes. A judgment in personam usually creates a personal obligation as it determines the rights of parties inter se to, or in the subject-matter in dispute whether it be land or other corporeal property or liquidated or unliquidated demand, but does not affect the status of either the persons to the dispute or the thing in dispute.”

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I must not, I believe, confuse it with the meaning attached to the word in England where it refers to the speech or a whole judgment of a Law Lord delivered in the Rouse of Lords, or in the United States where it refers to the entire judgment of a superior court. It is in the context of the use of the word with reference to the United States and House of Lords’ decision that Black’s Law Dictionary (5th Edn.) at p.985 defined “opinion” as- The statement by a Judge or Court of the decision reached in regard to a cause tried or argued before them expounding the law as applied to the case and detailing the reasons upon which the judgment is based. This equates an “opinion” to the entire decision, which would include other parts of a judgment. But clearly the appellants are not saying that the Court of Appeal on the second hearing should have simply rubber-stamped and handed down again the previous decision of that court differently constituted. A more relevant definition of the word “opinion” in the sense it is used in this appeal is to be found in Words and Phrases Permanent Edition Vol. 29A at pp. 495-496 where “opinion” was defined thus: “An ‘opinion’ of the court is a statement by the court of its reasons for its findings, conclusions, or judgment. I adopt this, and only add that it also includes not only the reasons but also such findings or conclusions in such a judgment. So, an “opinion” is the reasoning and conclusion of a Judge on the issue or issues in contention before him. It is in this context that I shall consider the real points raised by this appeal.

— P. Nnaemeka-Agu JSC. Gbaniyi Osafile v. Paul Odi (SC 149/1987, 4th day of May 1990)

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