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NONCOMPLIANCE IN RULES WILL NOT RESULT IN JUDGEMENT BEING SET ASIDE

Dictum

It is trite to say that non-compliance with rules of court will not necessarily result in the judgment given in the case being set aside and it is also clear that once a step is taken in the proceedings by a party complaining about the breach of the rules of court he is said to have waived the breach. This was the decision of this court in the case of Jozebson Industries Co. v. R. Lauwers Import-Export (1988) All NLR 310 at 333; (1988) 3 NWLR (Pt.83) 429.

— Mohammed, JSC. Kossen v Savannah Bank (1995) – SC.209/89

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THE BINDING NATURE OF THE RULES OF COURTS

Nnachi v. Onuorah & Anor (2011) LPELR – 4626 (CA) @ pp. 16 -17, where this Court per Garba JCA (as he then was but now JSC) had stated inter alia thus: “The law is settled that the Rules of Court binds both the Court and especially the parties in the preparation of processes to be filed in the Court. The Rules of Court are not intended or made merely to adorn the pages on which they were printed and to decorate the shelves or libraries of the Court, but meant to be complied with since it regulates the practice and procedure in the exercise of the Court’s powers and jurisdiction over matters that come before them. Because our Courts are Courts of law their powers and jurisdiction conferred by the law should or must be exercised in compliance or adherence with the rules of practice and procedure pursuant to the law. The primary duty of the Court is to do justice in cases that come before them, in accordance with the Rules of the Court provided to guide the procedure for the attainment of such justice which is to be justice according to the law applied to the peculiarities of a given case.”

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RULES OF COURT ARE NOT AS SACROSANCT AS STATUTORY PROVISIONS

In Clement v. Iwuanyanwu (1989) NWLR Pt. 107 Pg. 39 per Ogbuagbu JSC held that: “Rules of courts are not as sacrosanct as statutory provisions of law. A rule of court, cannot confer jurisdiction. It only regulates the practice of the court in the exercise of a power derived aliunde (from another source or from elsewhere) and does not confer power. See Ogunremi v. Dada (1962) 2 SCNLR 417; 1962 1 ANLR 663 and Cropper v. Smith (1883) 24 CH.D”

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AN ACT OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SUPERCEDES RULES OF COURT

Thus, even though the Rules of court are to be followed, in cases whereby an Act of the National Assembly provides for a special procedure to be adopted by the courts in doing a thing, the Act of the National Assembly shall supersede the provisions of the High Court Rules. We must not lose sight of the fact that the High Court Rules are adjectival rules rather than substantive law and can never supersede an enactment of the National Assembly.

– H.M. Ogunwumiju, JCA. ITV v. Edo Internal Revenue (2014) – CA/B/20/2013

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DEPENDING ON CIRCUMSTANCES, RULES OF COURT MAY NOT MANDATORILY BE COMPLIED WITH

There are instances where a party, due to no fault of his, is unable to comply with rules of court. Where there is such non-compliance, the attitude and reaction of the court will depend on the facts and circumstances of such case. The circum-stances form part of the sole issue for determination, distilled and formulated by the Appellant in his brief of argument in this appeal. There are thus, exceptions to the jurisprudence that rules of court must be complied with. In a circumstance where a party who is unable to comply with the rules of court advances cogent materials for non-compliance, that brings his case within the exception for which the Applicant can get a waiver.

— Mufutau Bamidele Akande v Professor Olugbemiro Jegede (2022) – SC./948/2015

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THE COURT WILL DO JUSTICE BY PROCEDURE LAID DOWN BY LAW

Bakare v. Apena (1986) 6 SC 467 @ p. 468, where the Supreme Court per Aniagolu JSC (God bless his soul) had succinctly stated inter alia thus: “A judge will not adopt a method of adjudication alien to procedural rule of justice upon a plea that he is actuated by the noblest of intentions and an impassionate zeal, for justice which propels him to bizarre methods of arriving at justice holding as it were, as justifying Machiavellian principle, that the end justifies the means. The Court as the last resort will indeed do justice by the procedure laid down by law and constitution. The moment a Court ceases to do justice in accordance with the law and procedure laid down for it, it ceases to be a regular Court to become a kangaroo Court.’’

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NON-COMPLIANCE WITH RULES OF COURT CANNOT ROB THE COURT OF JURISDICTION

We must not also be oblivious of the fact that non-compliance with Rules of court though amounts to serious irregularities in procedure, it cannot rob the court of jurisdiction and cannot render the decision of the court void.

– H.M. Ogunwumiju, JCA. ITV v. Edo Internal Revenue (2014) – CA/B/20/2013

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