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IF NO SUBSTANTIAL DISPUTE THEN ORIGINATING SUMMONS SHOULD BE USED

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It is clear from the above that an action could be brought by originating summons if the issues involved are not in dispute or in controversy or not likely to be in dispute or in controversy. Putting it negatively, where the issues are in dispute or are contentious, an originating summons procedure will not lie. In such a situation, the party must initiate the action by a writ of summons, a procedure which accommodates pleadings of facts. An action could be brought by originating summons where the sole or principal question in issue is or is likely to be one of construction of a statute, or of any instrument made under a statute or of any deeds, will, contract, or other document or some other question of law. It is not the law that once there is dispute on facts, the matter should be commenced by writ of summons. No. That is not the law. The law is that the dispute on facts must be substantial, material, affecting the live issues in the matter. Where disputes are peripheral, not material to the live issues, an action can be sustained by originating summons. After all, there can hardly be a case without facts. Facts make a case and it is the dispute in the facts that give rise to litigation.

— Niki Tobi JSC. Pam & Anor. V Mohammed (2008) – SC.238/2007

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INTRODUCTION OF ORIGINATING SUMMONS

The English Common Law which Nigeria received has developed a corpus juris on when an action can and cannot be commenced by originating summons. The procedure for originating summons came into the English Legal System by the Chancery Procedure Act of 1852 which replaced the old mode of commencing proceedings in the Court of Chancery by “bill” with the commencement of a suit in certain cases only by summons originating proceedings in chambers. In 1883, the rules of the Supreme Court 1875 were stated and the term originating summons was for the first time introduced. See Re Holloway (A solicitor ex-parte Pallister (1894) 2 QS 163. See also Re Priver, Lindsell v. Phillips (1885) 30 Ch. D 291; In Re Giles Real and Personal Coy v. Michell (1890) 43 Ch. 0391; Nutten v. Holland (1894) 3 Ch. 408.

— Niki Tobi JSC. Pam & Anor. V Mohammed (2008) – SC.238/2007

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS NOT FOR CONTENTIOUS FACTS

The practice is usually that originating summons is not a proper procedure where contentious issues of fact are to be resolved by the court.

– AKA’AHS, J.S.C. Danladi v. Dangiri (2014)

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WHERE INTERPRETATION IS NEEDED ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS APPROPRIATE

KEYAMO VS. HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, LAGOS STATE (2000) 11 W.R.N. 29 at 40, (2000) 12 NWLR (Pt. 680) 796 at 213 stated as follows: “I must state that the correct position of the law is that originating summons is used to commence an action where the issue involved is one of the construction of a written law or of any instrument made under a written law, or of any deed, contract or other document or some other question of law or where there is unlikely to be any substantial dispute of fact. This is the provision of Order 3 Rule 2 (2) of the Lagos State Civil Procedure (supra)”

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ABSENCE OF SIGNATURE OF THE JUDGE ON THE ORIGINATING SUMMONS – NON-COMPLIANCE

It is pertinent to observe that the competence of the court to exercise jurisdiction is not questioned on any other than the ground alleging want of signature of the Judge. Accordingly, for appellants to succeed they must show that the absence of the signature of a High Court Judge to an originating summons, is fatal to the validity of the proceedings initiated by it. Stricto sensu, there is no provision in the rules of court indicating the effect of noncompliance with its provisions.

— Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Saude v. Abdullahi (1989) – SC.197/1987

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FRAUD CANNOT BE DETERMINED IN AN ORIGINATING SUMMONS PROCEEDINGS

I am aware that it is not every seeming conflict arising from affidavit evidence that would warrant the calling of or resort to oral evidence for its resolution. However, where the issues of facts are contentious and border of the copious allegations of fraudulent practices as in the first respondent’s suit, it calls for caution on the path of the court from rushing to determine such a claim on affidavit evidence alone in an Originating Summons, as such a case is, in my view, one more suited and proper for determination on the pleadings and evidence of the parties under the procedure by way of a Writ of Summons.

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

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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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