Tag Archives: Court of Appeal

THE CASE OF SIFAX NIGERIA LTD VS MIGFO NIGERIA LTD: WAS THE COURT OF APPEAL LAYING DOWN THE PRECEDENT OF NOT FOLLOWING PRECEDENTS?

‘…Nobody knows, until a case has come to trial, what will emerge from all the “authorities”… Every lawyer is aware of points on which the authorities are conflicting and obscure, and as precedents multiply, so do the conflicts and obscurities’. Sir Carleton Kemp Allen (Case Law: An Unwarrantable Intervention (1935) 51 LQR 333).

 

Olabisi Olajide Esq

 

Olabisi Olajide Esq., an Associate at Abiodun Layonu & Co., (Legal Practitioners & Insolvency Practitioners) writes from Lagos. richardolabisi@gmail.com

Introduction

The doctrine of judicial precedent in Nigeria, like in any other common law jurisdiction, is designed to achieve consistency and predictability. Legislations most times speak to hypothetical situations. This is especially when legal draftsmen draft to also capture unforeseeable future circumstances which most times are a veritable source of uncertainty. Hence, the duty of the courts to apply the law to real situations as they are met in cases confronting them becomes imperative. In doing this however, it must be noted that the powers of the court are not at large. The duty of the Court must be or must appear to be limited to giving effect only to the intention of the Legislature. As put by Lord Denning in the case of Seaford Court Estate Ltd v. Asher (1949) 2 K.B.481, the court’s duty is to “iron out the crispness” in the law without altering the fabric in which the law is woven.  The courts therefore, must not be accused of usurping or substituting their views or opinions with that of the Legislature, not even with the aim of doing justice or substantial justice. Otherwise, the cases coming up in court would be matter of one judge, one opinion, and one law, which will definitely lead to a situation where the legal sphere becomes clogged by a myriad of single instances. The lawyers, operating most times under the tyrannical influence of drive for revenue, would mostly derive utility in the confusion by creating a state of one man, one machete, or better put, a case of “you cite your own authority, I cite mine”, albeit conflicting. Orderliness should not be expected in such a system.

Continue reading THE CASE OF SIFAX NIGERIA LTD VS MIGFO NIGERIA LTD: WAS THE COURT OF APPEAL LAYING DOWN THE PRECEDENT OF NOT FOLLOWING PRECEDENTS?

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ALL decisions of the National Industrial Court are appealable to the Court of Appeal.

 

Skye Bank Plc v. Iwu [2017] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1590) 24 at 105-106, paras. H-E, per Nweze, JSC:

“In all, then, on a holistic interpretation of sections 240 and 243(1) of the 1999 Constitution, appeals lie from the trial court (National Industrial Court) to the lower court (Court of Appeal), that is, all decisions of the trial court are appealable to the lower court: as of right in criminal matters, [section 254c(5) and (6)] and fundamental right cases, [section 243(2)]; and with the leave of the lower court, in all civil matters where the trial court has exercised its jurisdiction, sections 240 read conjunctively with sections 243(1) and (4). The answers to the questions posed to this court in this case statement, therefore are: (a) the lower court, that is the Court of Appeal, has the jurisdiction, to the exclusion of any other court in Nigeria, to hear and determine all appeals arising from the decisions of the trial court, that is, the National Industrial Court; (b) no constitutional provisions expressly divested the said Court of Appeal of its appellate jurisdiction over all decisions on civil matters emanating from the trial court, the National Industrial Court; and (c) as a corollary, the jurisdiction of the Court to hear and determine civil appeals from the decisions of the National Industrial Court is not limited, only, to fundamental rights matters.”

Blogger’s Note:

The above epoch-making decision of the Supreme Court has laid to rest the controversies surrounding the legal status of the decisions of the National Industrial Court (NIC). Taken that presently, many are already aware of this decision, we shall here highlight the deducible rationale behind the majority decision and the reasoning of the Supreme Court (in no particular order). Continue reading ALL decisions of the National Industrial Court are appealable to the Court of Appeal.

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