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PLAINTIFF HAS ONUS TO PROVE LEGAL CAPACITY WHERE CHALLENGED

Dictum

I think the learned Justice, with respect, was in error when he said that “the onus is on a plaintiff to aver its legal capacity.” I think the correct statement of the law is that where the legal capacity of the plaintiff is challenged by the defendant, the onus is on the former to prove his legal capacity. I believe it is this error that led their Lordships astray. This burden to prove a matter can only be discharged by leading evidence, oral or documentary, in proof of same. The plaintiff was not given the opportunity to do so in this case, before her action was struck out. I think both courts below are wrong in the course taken by them.

— Ogundare, JSC. Bank of Baroda v. Iyalabani (2002) – SC.59/1998

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APPELLANT MUST SUCCEED ON ITS OWN BRIEF – WHERE RESPONDENT FILED NO BRIEF

An issue may then be raised as to whether the non-filing of the Respondent’s Brief of Argument will make the Appellants appeal to succeed. All the some, the non-filing of the Brief of Argument in respect of this appeal by the Respondent to the issues ventilated by the Appellant in his Brief of Argument does not mean that it is a work-over for the Appellant. The Appellant still has to justify the appeal against the judgment or decision of the Learned trial Judge based on the strength of his case as borne and by the Records of appeal in this matter. The failure of a Respondent to file a reply Brief is immaterial. This is because an Appellant will succeed on the strength of his own case. But a Respondent will be deemed to have admitted the truth of everything stated in the Appellant’s Brief in so far as such is borne out by the Records. In other words, it is not automatic. An Appellant must succeed or fall on his own Brief.

– P.O. Elechi, JCA. Emori v. Egwu (2016) – CA/C/259/2013

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IMPORTANT POINTS ON BURDEN OF PROOF

In the case of Lewis & Peat (N.R.I.) Ltd. v Akhimien (1976) 10 NSCC 360 at 365. They are: (1) “Where there is no issue the question of burden of proof does not arise. (2) On the burden of proof on the pleadings: the rule is that the burden of proof rests on the party whether plaintiff or defendant who substantially asserts the affirmative of the issue in Joseph Constantine Steamship Line v. Imperial Smelting Corporation (1942) AC 154 at 174. (3) On the burden of adducing evidence: Used in this sense the burden of proof may shift depending on how the scale of evidence preponderates. Subject to the scale of evidence preponderating, the burden of proof rests squarely on the party who would fail if no evidence at all or no more evidence, as the case may be, were given, on either side. In other words, it again rests before evidence is taken by the court of trial on the party who asserts the affirmative of the issue …”

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CIVIL SUIT IS DECIDED ON THE BALANCE OF PROBABILITIES

Now, civil suits are decided on the balance of probabilities, on the preponderance of evidence. The burden of proof is not static but shifts and the onus of adducing further evidence is on the person who will fail if such evidence is not adduced. See Osuji v Eke [2009] 16 NWLR (Pt 1166) 81.

— O.A. Obaseki-Osaghea, J. Akinsete v Westerngeco (2014) – NICN/LA/516/2012

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PLAINTIFF SUCCEEDS ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS CASE

It was the appellants herein as plaintiffs that desired that the trial Court grant the reliefs they claimed for on the basis that the facts they assert in their pleadings exist and it is their case that will fail if they fail to adduce evidence to prove the existence of those facts. They can only secure the favourable Judgment they desire on the strength of their case as established by legal evidence and not on the weakness or absence of a defence. Therefore, the legal burden to prove the said facts upon which the success of their case depends rests squarely on them by virtue of S.s 131, 132 and 133 (1) and (2) of the Evidence Act 2011.

– Agim JSC. APC v. Obaseki (2021)

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PROOF OF DELIVERY OF DOCUMENT

Agbaje v. Fashola (2008) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1082) 90 at 142. “Where it is alleged that a document was delivered to a person who denies receiving such document, proof of delivery to such person can be established by: (a) dispatch book indicating receipt; or (b) evidence of dispatch by registered post; or (c) evidence of witness, credible enough that the person was served with the document.”

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HE WHO ASSERTS FORGERY MUST PROVE IT

The burden of proving the allegation of falsification and forgery is on the person asserting it, and must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

– Tijjani Abubakar JSC. APC v. Obaseki (2021)

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