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HOW PLEADING OF FACT IS DONE

Dictum

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

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STATUTES ARE NOT TO BE PLEADED IN PLEADINGS

The position of the Appellant’s learned Counsel that the Appellant did not need to plead the provisions of p.4 of the Chinese Regulation concerning the transport of hazardous goods stems from the stated position that pleadings need no longer be technical and that it is no longer necessary to plead statutes and sections of statutes but that it is sufficient if the material facts only are pleaded.

– O. Daniel-Kalio, JCA. Egypt v. Abdoulaye (2017) – CA/K/540/2014

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PARTIES ARE BOUND BY THEIR PLEADINGS

As the parties are adversaries, each one is bound by his case as framed in his pleadings. That being so, the Defendant/Appellant will not be allowed to set up (at the hearing as he did) an entirely different case without any prior amendment to his pleadings: African Continental Seaways Ltd. v. Nigerian Dredging Roads General Works Ltd. (1977) 5 S.C. 235 at p.249.

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

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PLEADINGS: LEGAL RESULT OF THE DOCUMENT NEED NOT BE STATED

On issue of whether the respondent should have pleaded the legal effect of the notice of the breach as a fact before it is tendered. This is a clear misconception of the modern rule on pleadings. The strict rigid old legal terminology of pleading have since changed in line with new procedures. The pleader is not bound to state the legal result of a document pleaded or fact pleaded.

– Agim JSC. Pillars v. William (2021)

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WHEN APPLICATION TO AMEND PLEADINGS WILL BE REJECTED

The rules for the grant of amendment of pleadings are therefore very flexible and a matter within the discretion of the Judge. Nevertheless, an application to amend pleadings should be refused where: (1) It will entail injustice to the respondent. (2) The applicant is acting mala fide. (3) By his blunder, the applicant has done some injury to the respondent which cannot be compensated by costs or otherwise.

– SANKEY, J.C.A, Awure v. Iledu (2007)

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PLEADINGS MUST BE SUFFICIENTLY SPECIFIC AND COMPREHENSIVE TO ELICIT NECESSARY ANSWER

✓ In BELGORE v AHMED (2013) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1355) 60 at 95 – 96, the complaint against the averments in the petition was that they were unspecific, generic, speculative, vague, unreferable, omnibus and general in terms. In that case the Apex Court specifically held as follows: “Pleadings in an action are the written statements of the parties wherein they set forth the summary of the material facts on which each relied in proof of his claim or his defence as the case may be and by means of which the real matters was (sic) controversy between the parties and to be adjudicated upon are clearly identified. Although only material facts are required to be pleaded and in a summary form, they must nevertheless be sufficiently specific and comprehensive to elicit the necessary answers from the opponent. See Ashiru Noibi v. Fikolati & Ors (1987) 3 SC 105 at 119, (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt. 52) 629 and Omorhirihi v. Enetevwere (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt. 73) 746. They must contain such details as to eliminate any element of surprise to the opposing party. In this case where the dispute involves the election in as many as 895 polling units, the pleading in the petition which alleged electoral malpractices, non-compliance and/or offences in “some polling units”, “many polling units”, “most polling units” or “several polling units” cannot be said to have met the requirements of pleadings as stipulated in paragraph 4(1)(d) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act and/or Order 13 Rules 4(1), 5 and 6(1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009.”

✓ Also, in PDP v INEC & 3 ORS (2012) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1300) 538, the Apex Court, was also categorical when it held thus: “On whether the affected paragraphs were rightly struck out, I have read the affected paragraphs and found that they relate to allegations of non-voting in several polling points, disruption of election, non-conclusion of election, thumb-printing of ballot papers, falsification of election results, wide spread disruption, irregularities and malpractices without providing particulars or the polling units where the alleged malpractices took place. The lower court was therefore right when it held as follows: “The paragraphs above in my view are too generic, vague and lacking in any particulars as they are not tied specifically to any particular polling unit or any particular number of people who were alleged to be disenfranchised. The fact that a party can file further particulars or deny in a reply the averment in the pleading must not be general, it must be specific as to facts. It is settled law that a petitioner’s obligation to plead particulars of fraud or falsification without which the allegation is a non-starter.” I have nothing to add to this statement of law as advanced above, and I adopt it as mine.”

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STATEMENT OF CLAIM, NOT DEFENCE, IS LOOKED AT TO DETERMINE COURT JURISDICTION

In a long line of decided authorities, it is now firmly settled that it is the Statement of Claim that is looked at in determining whether or not, a court has jurisdiction to entertain and determine any suit or matter and not at the defence. (See Chief Adeyemi & others v Opevori (1976) 9-10 SC 31; The Attorney-General, Anambra State & 13 others v The Attorney-General of the Federation & 16 others (1994) 3 NWLR (Part 335) 659; (1994) 4 SCNJ 30). — Ogbuagu JSC. AG Kano State v AG Federation (2007) – SC 26/2006

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