Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

WHAT IS A CAUSE OF ACTION?

Dictum

Literally, the noun ’cause’ simply means to bring about or effect. A ’cause of action’ invariably denotes a combination (group) of operative facts thereby resulting in one or more bases for suing. In a sense, a cause of action is a factual situation that entitles one person to a remedy in Court from another person. An action brought outside the prescribed period offends against the provision of the section and does not give rise to a cause of action. A cause of action means the factual situation stated by the Plaintiff, if substantiated, entitle him to a remedy against the defendant.

– Saulawa, JSC. Oko v. Ebonyi State (2021)

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

AN ILLEGALITY CANNOT BE MADE THE SUBJECT MATTER OF AN ACTION

In Langston vs. Hughes (1813) 1 M&S 593 or 12 Digest 270 at 2214, Ellenborough, C.J., held that: “What is done in contravention of the provisions of an Act of Parliament cannot be made the subject-matter of an action” cited in Bostel Bros. Ltd. vs. Hurlock (1948) 2 All E.R. 312 at 313.

Was this dictum helpful?

INTEREST IS THE MEASURING ROD FOR A CAUSE OF ACTION – (ECOWAS Court)

ODAFE OSERADA V. ECOWAS COUNCIL OF MINISTERS, ECOWAS PARLIAMENT & ECOWAS COMMISSION, ECW/CCJ/JUD/01/08 @ 27, the Court held that: “Generally, and from a legal standpoint, the necessity for an Applicant to provide justification of interest in a case is attested to by the adage that where there is no interest, there is no action, and also an interest is the measuring rod for an action. In other words, an application is admissible only when the applicant justifies that he brings a case before a Judge for the purposes of protecting an interest or defending an infringement of such. Such an interest must be direct, personal and certain.”

Was this dictum helpful?

WHAT IS A CAUSE OF ACTION IN LAW

What then is a cause of action in law? Simply put a cause of action refers to those facts which show or give life to a right of action. It is the factual situation which gives a person a right of action. It is only where the claim of the Claimant does not disclose his sufficient interest in the subject matter that it must be terminated in limine by the Court if so moved by the Defendant. See Thomas v. Olufosoye (1986) 1 NSCC 321. See also AG. Federation v. AG Abia State and Ors (2001) FWLR (Pt. 64) 202 @ p. 264; Ndamzu v. Nemson Fishing Enterprises (2000) FWLR (Pt. 7) 1064 @ p. 1072.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

Was this dictum helpful?

ACCRUAL OF RIGHT VS ACCRUAL OF CAUSE OF ACTION

As I had earlier stated, there is a difference in accrual of right from accrual of cause of action, even though it is a very thin line of demarcation between them. When a right accrues, it is the duty of the beneficiary of that right to make moves to claim his right. When the move is made without success or a favourable response from the other party, there is nothing more to infer than that that refusal to respond is tantamount to a denial. At this point, the cause of action has accrued and is now enforceable through the instrumentality of a judicial process.

– M. Peter-Odili, JSC. Oko v. Ebonyi State (2021)

Was this dictum helpful?

WHAT IS A “DISPUTE”

As to what constitutes a “Dispute”, Uwais, CJN, (Rtd) in his Ruling in the case of Attorney-General of the Federation v Attorney-General of Abia State & 35 others (supra), stated as follows:- “What constitutes a dispute under section 212 subsection (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979, which has exactly the same provisions as section 232 subsection (1) in question, had been considered by this Court in the cases of Attorney-General of Bendel State v Attorney-General of the Federation & 22 others (1981) 10 SC 1 and Attorney-General of the Federation v Attorney-General of Imo State & 2 others (1983) 4 NCLR 178. In Attorney-General of Bendel State’s case , Bello, JSC, (as he then was), stated as follows on pages 48 to 49 thereof:- ‘To invoke the original jurisdiction of this Court there must be a dispute as so qualified between the Federation and a State or between States. The issue of jurisdiction was contested on three grounds, firstly, that there is no dispute which affected the interest of the Federation and Bendel State between the plaintiff (Bendel State) and the Federation. Secondly, . . . I think the first point may be easily disposed of from the definition of the word “dispute”. The Oxford Universal Dictionary defines it as ‘the act of arguing against, controversy, debate, contention as to rights, claims and the like or on a matter of opinion . . .’
Ogbuagu JSC also held as follows on page 320 thereof:- “It is well established principle of the interpretation of constitution that the words of a constitution are not to be read with stultifying narrowness – United States v Classic 313 U.S 299 and Nafiu Rabiu v The State (1980) 8-11 SC 130. The word ‘dispute’ in section 212(1) should therefore be given such meaning that will effectuate rather than defeat the purpose of that section of the Constitution. Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary (2ed), provides that ‘dispute’ is synonymous with controversy, quarrel, argument, disagreement and contention”. (Relied on in AG Kano State v AG Federation (2007) – SC 26/2006)

Was this dictum helpful?

ESTOPPEL: ISSUE & CAUSE OF ACTION ESTOPPEL

Two types of Estoppel by record are:- (a) Cause of Action Estoppel – which precludes a party to an action or his agents and privies from disputing as against the other party in any subsequent proceedings, matters which had been adjudicated upon previously by a court of competent jurisdiction between him and his adversary and involving same issue. (b) Issue Estoppel which precludes a party his servant, agent or privy from re-opening or relitigating as against the other party or his agents and privies in any subsequent proceedings, issues which were distinctly raised in a cause of action and appropriately resolved or determined in any suit between the parties in a court of competent jurisdiction.

– ADEKEYE, JCA. NOGA v. NICON (2007)

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.