WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF A DEFECTIVE WRIT ON THE JURISDICTION OF THE COURT?
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CASE TITLE: AROMIRE & ANOR v. AROMIRE & ORS (2019) LPELR-47704(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 11TH JUNE, 2019
PRACTICE AREA: CIVIL PROCEDURE
LEAD JUDGMENT: UGOCHUKWU ANTHONY OGAKWU, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.
This is an appeal against the decision of the Lagos State High Court.
The res in dispute in this matter is property situate at No. 8 Ashogbon Street, Lagos. The Appellants and the 4th and 5th Respondents laid disparate claims to the ownership of the said property. They resorted to litigation. The 4th and 5th Respondents were Claimants in the lower Court in SUIT NO. LD/462/1991: AYOTUNDE OKUNUBI & ANOR. vs. MRS. ABISOYE AROMIRE & ORS. The Appellants were the 1st & 2nd Defendants while the 1st-3rd Respondents herein were the 3rd-5th Defendants at the lower court. The 4th & 5th Respondents commenced the action at the lower court by Writ of Summons dated 26th February 1991 which is at pages 1-1A of the Records.
The reliefs claimed by the 4th & 5th Respondents as endorsed on their 3rd Amended Statement of Claim is as follows:
“WHEREON The Claimants claim against the Defendants jointly and severely [sic] the sum of N50, 000.00 (Fifty Thousand Naira Only) being general damages for trespass committed on the Claimants property situated at No. 8, Ashogbon Street, Lagos, by forcibly entering upon the land and starting to dig the land to lay foundation for a new building thereon and also for preventing the Claimants from developing the property at a time when building materials were reasonably priced than at now when process have sky-rocketed.
The Claimants also claim perpetual injunction to restrain the Defendants their servants and or agents and workmen and privies from further trespassing on the said land.”
The Appellants, being the 1st & 2nd Defendants at the lower Court, set up a counterclaim wherein they claimed the following reliefs:
“1.That the 1st Defendant is the legitimate owner of the property situate, lying and known as No. 8 Ashogbon Street, Lagos, the subject matter of this suit by virtue of her relationship with Yesufu Oresanya, the original owner of the property. the 1st Defendant will rely on the Deed of Conveyance dated 5th February 1919.
- That the 1st Defendant is the person entitled to the grant of Certificate of Occupancy in respect of the property situate and known as No. 8 Ashogbon Street, Lagos, the subject matter of this suit.
- That the proprietorship registered and the Land Certificate under Title No. L06668 registered on 21st June 1972 be set aside on the ground that it was irregularly obtained.
PARTICULARS OF IRREGULARITY
- The property which is a stool or chieftaincy land cannot be subject of a freehold interest under the nature and customary system of landholding in Lagos (Island in particular).
- The Claimants title is not in any way directly traceable to Yesufu Oresanya from whom the 1st Defendant derives and is claiming the title.”
The parties filed and exchanged pleadings and the matter went through the crucible of a full dressed hearing at which testimonial and documentary evidence was adduced. In its judgment delivered on 27th May 1991, the lower Court entered judgment for the 4th & 5th Respondents and dismissed the counterclaim of the Appellants.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the High Court, the Appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court of Appeal determined the appeal on a sole issue that is:
“Whether the writ of summons, the originating process in the suit is competent.”
In conclusion, the Court of Appeal found the appeal to be meritorious.
- ACTION- WRIT OF SUMMONS: Effect of a defective writ on the jurisdiction of the Court
- PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE- ISSUE OF JURISDICTION: Duty of Court when the issue of jurisdiction is raised
- PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE- SIGNING OF COURT PROCESS(ES): Effect of a Court process not signed by a legal practitioner