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PURPOSE OF ISSUE FORMULATION IN AN APPEAL

Dictum

It is necessary to emphasise the purpose of formulating issues for determination in briefs. Like pleadings to a litigation between the parties the issues formulated are intended to accentuate the real issues for determination before the Court. The grounds of appeal allege the complaints of errors of law, fact or mixed law and fact against the judgment appealed against. The issues for determination accentuate the issues in the grounds of appeal relevant to the determination of the appeal in the light of the grounds of errors alleged. Hence the issues for determination cannot and should not be at large, but must fall within the purview of the grounds of appeal filed.

— Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Adebanjo v Olowosoga (1988) – SC 134/1986

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TRIAL COURT HAS A DUTY TO DECIDE ALL ISSUES ARISING

Adjudication in our courts is our human attempt, (however imperfect), circumscribed as it is by our human limitations, to do justice between the parties before the court. It is of the essence of justice and fairness that cases are decided on their merits. This imposes a duty on the trial judge to consider all the issues arising between the parties before deciding for or against any such party. When a trial court fails in this duty he has merely decided half the case and not the whole case.

– Oputa JSC. OLUFOSOYE v. OLORUNFEMI (1989)

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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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SUPERFLUOUS AND OVERLAPPING ISSUES ARE NOT NECESSARY

The issues formulated by the parties are needlessly overlapping and superfluous in several aspects. The Appellants formulated twelve (12) issues for determination when in actual fact the contention in this appeal appears straightforward. On their part, the Respondents formulated seven (7) issues with inelegant verbosity. This is not necessary in a Court as busy as the Supreme Court, perhaps any Court at all.

— S.D. Bage, JSC. Onyekwuluje v Animashaun (2019) – SC.72/2006

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PURPOSE OF FRAMING OF ISSUES

✓ In Unity Bank & Anor V. Edward Bonari (2008) 2 SCM 193 at 240, this court had opined thus: “It is now firmly settled that the purpose of reframing issue or issues is to lead to a more judicious and proper determination of an appeal. In other words, the purpose is to narrow the issue or issues in controversy in the interest of accuracy, clarity and brevity.” See also, Musa Sha (Jnr.) & Anor V. Da Ray Kwan & 4 ors (2000) 5 SCNJ 101 (2000) 8 NWLR (Pt 670) 685.

✓ In Sha V. Kwan (supra) at 705 this court has stated thus: “So long as it will not lead to injustice to the opposite side, appellate courts possess the power and in the interest of justice, to reject, modify or reframe any or all issues formulated by the parties…”

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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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ISSUES FORMULATED ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ARGUMENTATIVE

Issues for determination are formulated’ and not supposed to be argumentative’ as formulated. The parties are expected to coin their issues for determination as precise as possible with professional elegance and brevity but without sacrificing its essential messages. By practice, issues formulated are different from issues argued or arguments on issues. Arguments or analogies on issues formulated are not to be contained in the issues so formulated. Arguments and analogies are to be supplied separately to amplify on the issues so formulated. The Respondents’ Counsel is found inadequate in this regard for formulating convoluted issues for determination at pages 7-8 of the Respondents’ Brief.

— S.D. Bage, JSC. Onyekwuluje v Animashaun (2019) – SC.72/2006

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