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22 Jan

CIVIL WEEK 14 CLOSING ADDRESS AND JUDGMENT

WEEK 14

CLOSING ADDRESS AND JUDGMENT.

:: FINAL/CLOSING ADDRESS (ROLE AND FUNCTIONS): check criminal litigation note.

:: FORMAT, STRUCTURE AND CONTENT:

Format: white opaque A4 paper of good quality set out in paragraphs and numbered serially.

Structure; – Heading of Court; – Suit Number; – Parties and designation; – main body of address; Signature and address of counsel; address for service.

Content; add (in addition to the above) a succinct statement of argument, conclusion, prayer, list of authorities cited.

:: PRESENTATION AND ETHICS IN PRESENTING CLOSING ADDRESS. Unethical to mislead, misquote or quote repealed, concealment.

:: MEANING, FORM AND CONTENT OF A VALID/GOOD JUDGMENT. Meaning: It is the reasoned decision of the court delivered within 90 days from conclusion of evidence and final address. See generally Saraki v Kotoye, 318 CFRN. Characteristics: S 294 CFRN, 308 ACJA, Mogaji v Odofin, Elocim v Mbadiwe, etc.: IT SHOULD BE (characteristics)

– Delivered in writing: S 294 CFRN. Okoruwa v The State. Although appellate court can deliver judgments orally and give reasons at a later date. ANPP v GONI appears to put that such lee is only allowed to appellate courts that are the final court in the matter.

– Delivered in open court. OR 40 UR, 35 Lag, 39 Abuja. Save in exceptions provided by CFRN.

Delivered within time[1]: S 294 (1) CFRN says 90 days from conclusion of evidence and final address. Judgment delivered outside prescribed time may only be set aside where such delay occasioned a miscarriage of justice-294(5).

– It must contain a proper evaluation of evidence. Should show that the court understood the issue before it. Mogagi v Odofin. Oro v Falade.

– It must confine itself to the issues raised and claims sought as court is bound by parties’ pleadings. E.g. court should not award what is not claimed or award more than what is claimed Elochim v Mbadiwe. Although it may make consequential orders necessary for justice and to give effect to the judgment. A.G Lagos v A.G Federation.

For HC decisions, it should contain reasons (cannot reserve reasons for a later date)

:: TYPES OF JUDGMENT.

We have;

– Final Judgment: determines the rights and liabilities of the parties (and terminates the case) without need for parties to go back to the same court that gave the decision-Ex parte Moore, Akinsanya v UBA Ltd. E.g. decision that court does not have jurisdiction.

– Interlocutory Judgment: Do not finally dispose of parties rights. Parties have 3 months to appeal a final decision and 14 days to appeal an interlocutory decision. 241 and 242 CFRN.

– Consent Judgment: is a judicial pronouncement on the Terms of Settlement between parties. It must be exactly as agreed by the parties. May be set aside for fraud, violation of law or public policy. Appeal against consent judgment needs leave of court.

– Summary Judgment

– Default Judgment: not on its merit

– Declaratory Judgment: adjudication on status and rights of litigants without any consequential reliefs awarded-Adigun v AG Oyo, Gov of Gongola v Tukur. May create estoppel.

– Non-suit: Made in appropriate circumstances where neither party has proved himself worthy of any reliefs claimed and no injustice would be occasioned.

:: REQUIREMENT AND PROCEDURE FOR DELIVERY OF JUDGMENT.

Once a trial judge delivers judgment, he becomes functus officio and cannot re-open the matter except; it is to rectify/correct clerical errors (to reflect true intention of the court), set aside for fraud (setting aside for fraud can only be done by the court that gave the judgment) or nullity (usually for jurisdiction-Sken Consult v Sekondy Ukey, Omotunde v Omotunde), set aside default judgment.

Furthermore, ancillary orders (like stay of execution, payment of judgment debt in instalments, etc) can be made to facilitate justice and enforcement-ACB Ltd v Dominion Builders Co Ltd, etc.).

For appellate courts, each judge must write his opinion or adopt his colleague’s written opinion.

At least one judge can seat to read the judgment.

A colleague may also deliver his learned brother’s written and signed (and sealed?) judgment.

Judgment becomes effective from date of delivery/pronouncement unless court directs otherwise (e.g. orders a stay of execution pending appeal).

Lower court is bound to follow the judgment except it has been overruled or in conflict or the lower court decides to distinguish the case.

Judgment may be delivered on non-juridical days so long as parties are not compelled to attend.

After delivery of judgment, the parties should be furnished with duly authenticated copies within 7 days of delivery.

[1] As Section 36 CFRN guarantees fair hearing within a reasonable time. Ariori v Elemo. Retrial may be ordered where it is obvious that judge would have lost recollection.

Isochukwu

Quite eccentric really

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