CIVIL WEEK 10 PRE-TRIAL ISSUES AND PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE.
FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST JESUS; THE BEGINNING AND THE END WEEK 10
PRE-TRIAL ISSUES AND PRE-TRIAL PROCEEDINGS/CONFERENCES.
PRE TRIAL CONFERENCE is done Within 14 days from close of pleadings, claimant should apply for the CMCNotice (Form 17) failing which defendant may apply for same or apply for action to be dismissed.
CMC/PTC/PTP is for expeditious disposal of matters which can be dealt with especially on interlocutory application. Promote ADR and amicable settlement.
At CMC, judge can make various orders LIKE; settlement of issues, amendment of pleadings, admissions, referral to multi-door court house, scheduling of discovery, inspection and production of documents, etc.).
At the end, judge then issues a report.
Or. 25 R 5. Refusal to attend CMC may lead to dismissal of case (if plaintiff) or judgment in default of appearance (if defendant is at fault but he can apply within 7 days to set aside default judgment Wimpey V Balogun).
The following can be dealt with at the pre-trial issues:
: JOINDER OF PARTIES: where necessary.
: CONSOLIDATION OF SUITS: which would be better tried together for convenience and expediency. Although each still has separate identity and judgment.
:: STRIKING OUT PLEADINGS (OR OFFENDING PART): WHERE NO REASONABLE CAUSE OF ACTION IS DISCLOSED, ETC.
May be done if pleadings does not disclose a good defence, is embarrassing, scandalous, frivolous, vexatious, an abuse of court process, may prejudice or delay the suit. Judge or court can also order that the action be stayed or dismissed or judgment be entered accordingly as may be just. Or 15 Lagos, Or 23 Abuja. The applicant applies by motion on notice or summons and written address asking for dismissal or striking out with affidavit of supporting ground.
:: DISCOVERY: WHICH INVOLVES INTERROGATORIES (i.e. discovery of Facts) AND INSPECTION (Discovery of Documents). Can be utilised where there is an issue to be determined between the parties.
:: INTERROGATORIES (Discovery of Fact): Or 26 Lagos, 30 Abuja. Interrogatories are written examinations to the adverse party (before trial but usually after pleadings have been filed and served) eliciting information or admissions.
The lawyer delivering interrogatories with leave of court (except in Lagos) shall specify the questions to be answered. The said questions must relate to facts in issue, be confined within the ambits of the pleadings, support the case of the interrogator or destroy the case of interrogatee.
Questions which are oppressive, scandalous, immaterial, or seek to expose the evidence of the other party, (Onwuike V Voice of the People) outside the pleadings (fishing interrogatories) and questions as to credit would not be allowed. Interrogatories can be objected to (in addition to above but also) on such other grounds as privilege and immunity Holton V Darby. Thus interrogatories are either admissible or inadmissible.
In Abuja leave to serve interrogatories is by summons or motion on notice.
Interrogatories are answered by depositions in affidavit (2 copies) in Form 20 Lagos, 31 Abuja filed within 10 days or such other time as judge may allow. In Lagos 7 days, Abuja 5 days. Dealing with each question one by one.
Answers in interrogatories can serve as admissions and can be used at trial.
Non-compliance with order for interrogatories: A party who refuses to serve interrogatories may be committed and liable to have his action dismissed for want of prosecution or defence. A defendant’s defence may be struck out U.T.B V International Parts Ltd.
:: INSPECTION: Or 26 Lagos, 30 Abuja. Within 7 days from close of pleadings, a party (by motion on notice or summons) can ask his opponent to disclose certain material documents in his possession for him to inspect and make copies thereof. Such should be answered on oath within 7 days of request and shall be dealt with at the CMC. Privileged, incriminating, confidential, public interest documents, etc. may not be disclosed. Or 32 Abj, 184-196 EA 2011
:: NOTICES TO ADMIT (ADMISSION) comes from the party by his own pleadings or otherwise in writing that he admits the truth of the whole or part of the CASE of the other party. Admissions may be recalled–a party who admitted unintentionally may amend his pleadings to deny what he admitted Hollis V Burton.
:: SETTLEMENT OF ISSUES: improved expediency and strategy by focusing on cardinal issues only. This is done within 14 days from conclusion of pleadings (7 days in Lagos). The parties/court seek to narrow the questions in controversy and formulate the issues for determination. Or 33 Abuja, 27 Lagos. This shall be submitted in writing to the registrar. Matter may be set down for hearing upon issues submitted by one or both of the parties. Where none submitted, they shall be given notice to attend the settlement of issues. See generally Maximum Insurance Ltd V Owoniyi.
 Where before more than one judge, the consent of the CJ of the High Court of the state be first obtained. See Dumez V UBA Suits consolidated can be deconsolidated where it would be more deserving to do so.
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