Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

COURT OF LAW MUST LIMIT ITSELF TO ISSUE RAISED IN PLEADINGS

Dictum

Courts of law must, as a rule, limit themselves to the issues raised by the parties in their pleadings as to act otherwise might well result in the denial to one or the other of the parties of his constitutional right to fair hearing.

– Iguh, JSC. Clay v. Aina (1997)

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

AMENDMENT OF PLEADINGS – PARTY WILL NOT BE DISALLOWED

Let me pause here to say one or two words on amendment of pleadings. Amendment of pleadings is part of the judicial process and we cannot run away from it. We cannot even avoid it. The courts are mostly receptive to applications for amendment. They accommodate applications for amendment most of the time. Apart from the understandably relaxed and accommodating nature of our adjectival Law on the issue, courts of law, by their nature and institutional upbringing are reluctant and loath to shut their gates against willing litigants midstream in the presentation of their claims and rights in terms of available facts. Since that is not consistent with the basic rules of fair hearing and natural justice, the courts, in most cases, grant applications for amendment of pleadings.

— Tobi, JCA. Abraham v Olorunfunmi (1990) – CA/L/83/89

Was this dictum helpful?

CONFLICTING FACTS CAN BE PLEADED WHERE ALTERNATIVE RELIEFS ARE SOUGHT

As rightly submitted by the Petitioners, the reliefs in this Petition, which I have reproduced at the beginning of this judgment, are undoubtedly sought in the alternative. The settled law is that reliefs can be sought in the alternative and where so sought by a party, he is at liberty to plead conflicting facts in line with the alternative reliefs he has sought. In ADIGHIJE V NWAOGU & ORS (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1209) 419 at 545, paras. E G; (2010) LPELR-4941(CA) at pages 14 – 16, paras. E G, this Court, per Ogunwumiju, JCA (as he then was, now JSC), held that: “…in civil litigation and indeed in election matters, a party can make two seemingly contradictory pleadings leading to two different heads of claim. That is why a petitioner can claim that the election be annulled for reason of substantial non-compliance and in the same breath claim that he won the election by a majority of lawful notes. A petitioner may plead the same set of facts to ground alternative reliefs. Those pleadings are not ipso facto held to be self-contradictory. The Court can only grant one relief as the party must decide which relief is best supported by the evidence on record.” See also: METAL CONSTRUCTION (W.A.) LTD v ABODERIN (1998) LPELR 1868(SC) at pages 26, paras. C E.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

Was this dictum helpful?

HOW PLEADING OF FACT IS DONE

How now should the respondent have pleaded the invalidity of the transaction? In considering whether the invalidity of the transaction was pleaded, I must bear in mind the fact that pleadings are no longer required to be technical in formulation. Subject to the requirement that parties must not offend against any of the known rules of pleadings as laid down by law, such as that they should not plead evidence or omit to plead facts which, when proved, may result in surprise to the other side, or facts which are frivolous or vexatious, or which may tend to prejudice, embarrass or delay the trial of the action, all that a pleader is now required to do in such a case is, where necessary, to allege illegality or invalidity and plead facts from which inferences of law thereof could be drawn: see on this Knowles v. Roberts (1888) 38 Ch.D. 263, at p.270 to 271; Willis v. Lovick (1901) 2 K.B. 195. That is the proper rule. But the court will itself take notice of the illegality or invalidity of a contract on which a party is relying if it appears on the face of the contract or from the facts pleaded, although the party has not expressly averred that it is illegal or invalid: see Windhill Local Board v. Vint (1890) 45 Ch.D 357; Gedge v. Royal Exchange Assurance (1900) 2 Q.B. 214.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Adesanya v Otuewu (1993) – SC.217/1989

Was this dictum helpful?

MATTERS NOT PLEADED GOES TO NO ISSUE

At the trial, a party is bound by the pleadings and shall not be permitted to set up a different case. It is not open to a party to depart from his pleadings and put up an entirely new case. Matters not pleaded go to no issue and should not be admitted in evidence and, if admitted, should be ignored or discountenanced in the absence of an amendment of the pleadings. See Njoku and others v. Eme and others (1973) 5 S.c. 293; Okafor and others v. Okitiakpe (1973) 2 SC 49; EmegokWue v. Okadigho (1973) 4 SC.113 etc.

— Iguh, JSC. Onamade v ACB (1997) – SC.199/1990

Was this dictum helpful?

COURTS ARE BOUND TO DECIDE CASES ON THE PLEADINGS

The foregoing is the gist of the simple case presented before the trial judge. But it was made very complicated by the introduction of legal technicalities at the hearing of the appeal in this Court. The matter was further compounded by the conduct of the parties in that neither, as was disclosed by the issues canvassed before us, had any respect for the truth. However, courts are bound to decide cases on the pleadings of the parties and admissible evidence.

— M. Bello, JSC. Salawu Ajide V. Kadiri Kelani (SC.76/1984, 29 Nov 1985)

Was this dictum helpful?

PURPOSE OF PLEADINGS IN CIVIL CASES

I have carefully considered the submissions of the parties and the judicial authorities cited. It is trite that adversarial civil litigation is basically fought on pleadings. It is the foundation of the parties’ respective cases. The general principle of law is that such pleadings must sufficiently and comprehensively set out material facts, so as to ascertain with certainty and clarity the matters or issues in dispute between the parties. This is because the purpose of pleadings is to give adequate notice to the adversary of the case he is to meet and to afford him the opportunity to properly respond to such case. Its aim is to bring to the knowledge of the opposite side and the court, all the essential facts. It is therefore a safeguard against the element of surprise. See: SODIPO V LEMMINKAINEN OY & ANOR (1985) LPELR-3088(SC) at page 56, para. F, per Oputa, JSC; ODOM & ORS v PDP & ORS (2015) LPELR-24351(SC); ALHASSAN & ANOR v ISHAKU & ORS (2016) LPELR-40083(SC); and PDP v INEC & 3 ORS (supra).

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.