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FEWER ISSUES ARE ENCOURAGED TO BE RAISED BY PARTIES

Dictum

Counsel appeared to have worked on the misapprehension that every possible slip raises an issue. The result is that he framed too many issues -nine, for six grounds of appeal. This appears to be a reversal of the usual practice whereby one or two or more grounds raise an issue one ground can never properly raise more than one issue. It must, however, be borne in mind that an “issue” in an appeal must be a proposition of law or fact so cogent, weighty and compelling that a decision on it in favour of a party to the appeal will entitle him to the judgment of the court. This is why, apart from the fact that multiplicity of issues tends to reduce most of them to trifles, experience shows that most appeals are won on a few cogent and substantial issues, well-framed, researched and presented rather than on numerous trifling slips.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Ugo v Obiekwe (1989) – SC.207/1985

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ISSUE: NATURE OF ISSUE & GROUNDS OF APPEAL

It is trite that a Respondent may not formulate issues outside the grounds of appeal contained in the Appellant’s Notice of Appeal, in this case contained in Pages 337 – 346 of the printed records of Appeal. Issues for determination must be based on and correlate with the grounds of appeal and should be an answer to the grounds of appeal. An issue may encompass one or more grounds of appeal, it is incompetent where the issues are not based on the grounds of appeal, they are irrelevant. Issues for determination in an appeal is akin to pleadings in the lower Court, hence adherence to the strict observance of the rules on formulating issues for determination. If all the above constituent elements or requirements of the doctrine are not fully established, the plea of estoppel per rem judicatam can not be sustained.

– Nwaoma Uwa, JCA. NOGA v. NICON (2007)

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DEPARTING FROM PLEADINGS GOES TO NO ISSUE

This was raised by the appellant who claimed that it became his property on dissolution of the partnership and ceased to be partnership property. Having raised it, the onus of proof lay on him to establish by evidence that the property ceased to be partnership property. That is the law. However, he claimed in his testimony that the property was never partnership property but his own personal property. Since this was a departure from the pleadings, it went to no issue. Further, the Court will not allow a party to depart from the case set out in his pleadings. See Abimbola George v. Dominion Flour Mills (1963) All NLR. 71.

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

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APPELLATE COURT WILL NOT ALLOW FRESH ISSUE ON APPEAL TO BE TAKEN

In CHUKWUEMEKA N. OJIOGU V. LEONARD OJIOGU & ANOR (2010) LPELR – 2377 (SC), this Court per Chukwuma-Eneh JSC (of blessed memory) restated the principle inter-alia as follows:- “It is trite that an appellate Court will not allow a fresh issue on appeal to be taken without leave as it has not been pronounced upon by the Courts below. This is even more so as in this case where the appellant is trying on appeal to raise an issue which has not been raised, nor considered by the trial Court. However, where the question involves substantial point of law, substantive or procedural and it is plain that no further evidence may be called, the Court may allow the issue to be raised subject to leave having been sought and obtained.”

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A PARTY CANNOT CANVASS ARGUMENT OUTSIDE OF ISSUES FRAMED

It is clear that both issues are confined to the competence of the plaintiffs/respondents to sue in the matter. As they do not extend to the competence of the defendants/appellants to defend the action, I shall not go there. This is because parties are, bound by the issues formulated in their briefs. In other words, a party cannot advance an argument outside the issue or issues formulated in the brief without leave of Court. This stems from the larger ambit of our adjectival law that parties are, bound by their briefs.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Mozie & Ors. v. Mbamalu & Ors. (2006) – S.C.345/2001

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FAILURE TO APPEAL FOR ISSUES NOT HEARD BY THE LOWER COURT

It is obvious that the respondent has not appealed against the failure of the court below to consider other issues raised before it. The inference that can rightly be made from that position is that they took a chance that the judgment of the court below would be affirmed by this court. Having regard to what I have said above on the only issue considered by the court below, it is manifest that the risk taken by the respondent has not enured in its favour. On the other hand, as already observed, the trial court had found for the plaintiff/appellant in respect of all his claims against the respondent. As those findings remained undisturbed, it would not in my humble view, be right in the circumstances to now deny the appellant of the fruits of his success by remitting the case to the court below for the consideration of the issues that the court deliberately left unconsidered in its judgment. The justice of the case demands that the appellant should be granted all his claims as found by the trial court. And it is hereby granted accordingly.

— Ejiwunmi JSC. Melwani V. Five Star Industries Limited (SC.15/1994, 25 January 2002)

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REASON FOR THE FORMULATION OF ISSUE IN AN APPEAL

It cannot be over-empahsised that the object of the formulation of issues for determination in an appeal is to enable the parties narrow the issues arising from the grounds of appeal filed in the interest of clarity, brevity and accuracy, thus enabling the court to consider together a number of associated and related grounds of appeal within the issue to which they are related in the determination of the appeal.

– Iguh, JSC. Clay v. Aina (1997)

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