Counsel advise

Sin of counsel can be visited on litigant.

Lasaco Assurance Plc v. Deserve Savings & Loans Ltd. [2012] 2 NWLR (Pt. 1283) 95 at 116, paras. E-G, per Pemu, JCA:


“In Onyemelukwe v. W.A.C.C. Ltd. (1995) 4 NWLR (Pt. 387) page 44 at 49 ratio 9, it was held that where grave injustice will be done to the adverse party or where the mistake of counsel affects the court’s jurisdiction, the mistake of counsel cannot assist the party whose counsel has committed the mistake.
 

See also Erinfolabi v. Oke [1995] 5 NWLR (Pt. 395) 296 at 302-303, paras. A-B, where the court stated that the “rule that the court will not normally prosecute a litigant for the mistake or negligence of his counsel is not a “universal talisman”, the waiver of which will act as a panacea in all cases. Before the court accepts it, it must be satisfied not only that the allegation of fault of counsel is true and genuine, but also that it is availing, having regard to the circumstances of the particular case.”

Blogger’s Note:

In the above case, Counsel to the Appellant was found to be grossly negligent and tardy in the prosecution of the Appellant’s case at the trial Court. The Court of Appeal was compelled to do justice in the matter by ensuring that the Respondent reaps the fruits of his Judgment.
The Court of Appeal, per Pemu, JCA, at p. 117, paras. G-H, further stated the principle that “abuse of court process can obtain in situations where even counsel is tardy in the prosecution of his case. You do not expect the court to wait at your beck and call. You do not just dump any application on the court and withdraw same at will. You do not inundate the court with spurious applications. All these too, in my view, constitute an abuse of the process of court as it is harassing to it.”
This case further necessitates the advice to litigants to properly monitor the progress of their cases in court.

 

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