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REASON FOR LEAVE TO BE OBTAINED BEFORE ISSUE OF ORIGINATING SUMMONS TO BE SERVED OUTSIDE JURISDICTION

Dictum

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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ORIGINATING SUMMONS NOT SUITABLE FOR HOSTILE PROCEEDINGS

The merits of the originating summons lie in the fact that proceedings commenced thereby are very expeditiously dealt with as the action is almost invariably ready for hearing after the defendant had filed his counter-affidavit. Pleadings are not filed by the parties; witnesses are rarely examined, while affidavit evidence is used. Proceedings for which it is used therefore usually involve question of law rather than disputed facts. An originating summons should not be adopted if the proceedings are hostile proceedings.

– Adekeye, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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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 A JUDGE IN AN ORIGINATING SUMMONS

Although I do not agree with learned counsel to the respondents in his submission that absence of the signature of a Judge in an originating summons is a mere technicality, I think it is correct to say that the defect did not render the originating summons a nullity. Where the non-compliance with the rules is on the part of the court, the defect is merely administrative and did not render the originating summons or proceedings consequent thereto a nullity.

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

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CASES WHERE ORIGINATING SUMMONS HAVE BEEN APPLIED

As a child of the English common law, the Nigerian legal system spontaneously followed the above position of the law.
In Lagos Executive Development Board v. Awode (1995) 21 NLR 50, where plaintiff brought an action by originating summons for: (i) forfeiture of a lease; (ii) arrears of rent by virtue of sections 12, 38, 47, 50 and 53 of the Lagos Town Planning Ordinance, the court held that the section did not entitle the plaintiff to proceed by originating summons in a claim of that nature and that the action must be commenced by writ in the ordinary way.
In Doherty v. Doherty [1968] NMLR (pt.2) 241, the court held that it is generally unadvisable to employ an originating summons for proceedings against an invitee, and this procedure is of course quite unsuitable where the facts are in dispute, as the evidence is by way of affidavit.
In National Bank of Nigeria v. Alakija (1978) 2 LR 78, the court held that justice could only be done between the parties if all the facts were presented to the court in formal pleadings and the proceedings should have been commenced by writ rather than by originating summons.
In Oloyo v. Alegbe Speaker Bendel State House of Assembly [1983] 2 SCNLR 35, it was held that the action was misconceived in that it was not a dispute to be resolved by way of originating summons in view of the conflicts on crucial issues and facts. It should have been begun by a writ.
In Din v. Attorney-General of the Federation [1986] 1 NWLR (Pt. 17) 471, the Court of Appeal re-echoed the decision of the Supreme Court in the National Bank case and held that commencement of actions by originating summons is a proceeding which should only be used in cases where the facts are not in dispute or there is no likelihood of their being in dispute. Originating summons is also reserved for issues like the determination of questions of a Constitution and not matters of such controversy that justice of the case could demand the setting of pleadings. Since the affidavits in the case were conflicting, the matter could be taken by originating summons.

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS USED FOR FACTS WITH NO SUBSTANTIAL DISPUTE

In 1907, Neville, J. clearly stated the principle in the English case of Re King. Mellor v. South Australian Land Mortgage and Agency Coy (1907) 1 Ch. 72: “In other words, it is our considered view that originating summons should only be applicable in such circumstances as where there is no dispute on questions of fact or the likelihood of such dispute. Where, for instance, the issue is to determine short questions of construction, and not matters of such controversy that the justice of the case would demand the settling of pleadings, originating summons could be applicable. For, it is to be noted that originating summons is merely a method of ‘procedure and not one that is meant to enlarge the jurisdiction of the court.”

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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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