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  • 2003-10-20
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S. P. & Associates Ltd. vs. M.R.C.A.G.

S. P. & ASSOCIATES LIMITED

V

MARCH RICH & COMPANY A. G.

COURT OF APPEAL

( LAGOS DIVISION )

SULEIMAN GALADIMA, JCA ( Presided )

PIUS OLAYIWOLA ADEREMI, JCA

AMIRU SANUSI, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/L/125/99

THURSDAY, 11TH JULY, 2002

COURT - Abuse of the process of - What constitutes

COURT - Trial court - When seised of a matter

COURT - Proceedings thereof - Right of party thereto to complain of acts of omission or commission of court in the course of proceedings

COURT - Trial court - Issue of jurisdiction thereof - When raised after it had given a final judgment and an appeal pending on the same issue at the Court of Appeal - Whether appropriate for the trial court to determine same

COURT - Trial court - Matter already decided thereby - Whether same can be reopened by the trial court and be substituted with a different decision

COURT - Trial court - When had concluded a case and given a final judgment - Issue of jurisdiction thereof - Whether can be raised by party in a separate proceeding

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Decision of trial court - Whether same can be reopened by the trial court and be substituted with a different decision

JURISDICTION - Issue of - When can be raised

JURISDICTION - Trial court - Issue of jurisdiction thereof - When raised after it had given a final judgment and there is an appeal pending on the same issue at the Court of Appeal - Whether appropriate for the trial court to determine same

JURISDICTION - Trial court - When had concluded a case and given a final judgment - Issue of jurisdiction thereof - Whether can be raised by party in a separate proceeding

PARTIES - Party to proceedings of court - Right thereof to complain of court’s act of omission or commission in the course of the proceedings

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Abuse of the process of court - What constitutes

WORDS AND PHRASES - Abuse of the process of court - Meaning of

Issues:

1.             Whether the learned trial Judge was right in holding that the appellant’s application dated 6th September, 1996 constituted an abuse of the process of the Federal High Court?

2.             Whether the learned trial Judge was right in failing to find that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the subject-matter of the claim.

3.             Whether the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the subject-matter of this suit.

Facts:

Plaintiff/appellant commenced this suit at the Federal High Court Lagos. Writ of summons and statement of claim were served on defendant/ respondent. The defendant did not file statement of defence but rather filed an application praying the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit on the ground that the statement of claim did to disclose any reasonable cause of action. After taking argument from counsel the trial court dismissed the suit accordingly. Dissatisfied, plaintiff/appellant appealed against the ruling to the Court of Appeal.

During the pendency of the appeal, the appellant filed another application at the trial court praying the court to set aside its ruling and thereupon strike out the action on the ground that the claims in the suit was related to breach of contract which was within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Lagos State.

The trial court, after taking argument of counsel, ruled that the application was an abuse of court process, while dismissing the application the court refrained from considering whether it had jurisdiction to entertain the matter or not but opined that the issue of jurisdiction should be raised on appeal. Aggrieved, the appellant filed this appeal to the Court of Appeal.