Patrick Micheal & Ors V. Bank of the NorthMay 25, 2015
Captain Y. U. Zakari V. Nigerian Army & AnorJune 4, 2015
Areas of Law:
The Judgment Creditor/Applicant who was the Plaintiff at the trial court instituted an action against the Judgment Debtor/Respondent for certain declarative orders, general and special damages. The trial court entered judgment in favour of the Judgment Creditor/Applicant in the sum of 30,273,000.00 (Thirty Million, Two Hundred and Seventy Three Thousand Naira). Displeased by this decision, the Judgment Debtor/Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal where the decision of the trial court was affirmed and judgment was entered in favour of the Judgment Creditor/Applicant in the sum of 30,290,000.00 (Thirty Million, Two Hundred and Ninety Thousand Naira). Further aggrieved, the Judgment Debtor/Respondent went to the Supreme Court and the decision of the Court of Appeal was again affirmed and upheld. However, in the body of the judgment of the Supreme Court, the amount entered as awarded was 20,925,000.00 (Twenty Million, Nine Hundred and Twenty Five Thousand Naira). Thus, the Judgment Creditor/Applicant has brought an application under section 6(6) of the Constitution and Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules praying the Supreme Court for an order to correct the error arising from the accidental slip in the summation of facts of the case in the judgment of the court so as to give full effect to the intention of the Supreme Court.
- Whether this court acting under Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules (the slip Rule) can correct accidental slips, errors, which occurred in the addition/summation of the several heads of monetary awards made by the two courts below and affirmed by this court.
INHERENT POWERS OF THE COURT – INHERENT POWERS OF THE COURT ARE A PRODUCT OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE COURT AND THE ONUS IS ON THE COURT TO ENSURE THAT SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE IS ALWAYS ACHIEVED.
‘‘Inherent powers of the court are a product of the Constitution and the court itself in its quest for substantial justice thereby ensuring that the streams of justice remain pure: for example the courts have the inherent powers to dismiss an action which is an abuse of the process of court.’’ PER O. RHODES-VIVOUR, J.S.C
REVIEW OF JUDGMENT – INSTANCES WHERE THE APPELLATE COURT CAN REVIEW ITS JUDGMENT -ORDER 8 RULE 16 OF THE SUPREME COURT RULES
“Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules confers on this court inherent jurisdiction to correct errors and slips that occur in its judgments and orders. It reads:
“The court shall not review any judgment once given and delivered by it save to correct any clerical mistake or some error arising from any accidental slip or omission, or to vary the judgment or order so as to give effect to its meaning or intention. A judgment or order shall not be varied when it correctly represents what the court decided nor shall the operative and substantive part of it be varied and a different form substituted.” PER O. RHODES-VIVOUR, J.S.C
VARIATION OF JUDGMENT – THE SUPREME COURT HAS INHERENT POWERS TO VARY ITS JUDGMENT IN CASES OF CLERICAL MISTAKES OR ACCIDENTAL SLIP.
“The Supreme Court becomes functus officio once it has decided a matter. Its decisions cannot be reviewed. They are final. The inherent powers conferred on this court by Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules empowers this court, notwithstanding the finality of its judgments in justifiable cases to revisit a judgment already delivered for the purpose of correction in cases of clerical mistakes, or accidental slips or to amend the judgment in cases where the error is of a material nature that substantially affects the decision. The inherent powers enables the court to vary the judgment when the need arises so as to give the effect to its meaning or intention. On no account should the judgment be varied to represent what the court never decided or grant reliefs that were not granted. Neither can the judgment be rewritten. See Ezeoke v Nwagbo (1988) NWLR (Pt.72) p.616; Adigun & ors v AG Oyo State (1987) V0l. I8 (Pt. i) NSCC p.545 Udeze v Chideke (1990)1NWLR (pt 123) p.141; Chukwuka v Ezulike (1986)5NWLR (pt.45) p.892.” PER O. RHODES-VIVOUR, J.S.C
REVIEW OF THE SUPREME COURT’S DECISIONS – EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE PRECLUDING THE SUPREME COURT FROM REVIEWING ITS JUDGMENT.
“Reference to Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules: The decision of this court cannot be reviewed, it is final. There are some exceptions where the Supreme Court can revisit a judgment already delivered its finality notwithstanding. This revisit was for the purpose of correction in cases of clerical mistakes or accidental-slips or to amend the judgment in cases where the error is of a material nature that substantially affects the decision.” PER M. S. MUNTAKA-COOMASSIE, J.S.C
VARIATION OF A JUDGMENT OR ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT – A VARIATION OF THE JUDGMENT OF THE SUPREME COURT SHALL NOT BE MADE WHEN IT CORRECTLY REFLECTS WHAT THE COURT DECIDED.
“Yet, a judgment or order shall not be varied when it correctly represents what the court decided nor shall the operative and substantive part of it be varied and a different form substituted. See; Order 8 rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.
VARYING OF JUDGMENT – THE COURT HAS INHERENT POWER TO VARY ITS OWN JUDGMENT TO MAKE IT CLEAR WHERE THERE IS EXISTENCE OF DOUBT IN THE LANGUAGE USED
“Quite apart from the provisions of the rules of court empowering the court to correct or vary its delivered judgment, the court also possess inherent power or jurisdiction to amend or vary its own judgment or order so as to carry out its own meaning and to make it plain or clear, where the language used has created some doubt. This inherent power of the court also extends to the power to correct any accidental slip or error in its judgment, order, or ruling. See; Eleazor Obioha Vs Innocent Ibero & Anor(1994) 1 NWLR (Pt.322) 503 at 511. Daniel Asiyanbi Vs Emmanuel Awe Adeniyi(1967) NWLR 2381, (1967) 1 All NLR 88. Ayasinti Umunna & Ors Vs Okwuraiwe(1978) 6 SC 1; (1978) N SCC 319; Adigun Vs A.G. Oyo State (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt.56) 197.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.
JUDGMENT OF COURT – WHERE THE EXPRESSION USED IN THE JUDGMENT DOES NOT ACCURATELY CONVEY THE COURT’S INTENTION; THE COURT IS ENTITLED TO MAKE THE NECESSARY CORRECTIONS.
“It is however, clear from the rules of court, inherent jurisdiction of the court and our case laws, that if the expression used in the judgment does not accurately convey the court’s intention, the court is entitled to make the necessary corrections.” PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.
JUDGMENT OF THE COURT – INSTANCES WHERE THE COURT CAN SET ASIDE ITS OWN DECISION.
“Generally, the law is that after a judgment has been given and delivered, even if it is a consent judgment entered under a mistake, the court no longer has the power to set it aside except in the following situations, which though are not exhaustive.
(a) Where there has been a clerical mistake or an error arising from an accidental slip or omission in the judgment under the slip rules;
(b) Where the judgment as drawn up does not correctly represent what the court actually decided or intended to decide;
(c) Where the order is a nullity owing to failure to comply with an essential provision such as service of process which can be set aside by the court which made the order and;
(d) Where a judgment or order is made against a party in default. See; Obimonure Vs Erinosho(1966) 1 All NLR 245; Adeigbe Vs Kusimo (1965) NMLR 284; Obioha Vs Ibero(supra).”PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.
‘‘Whatever was reflected in the judgment which is less than or different from that amount was done in error and this court is entitled to, pursuant to the slip rule, correct the error. And the proper way to carry out the correction of the error is to delete the paragraph which reduced the amount entitled to by the applicants.’’PER O. ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.
CORRECTION OF JUDGMENT- AN APPLICATION GRANTING CORRECTION IN A JUDGMENT BY THE COURT DOES NOT IN ANY WAY VARY THE SUBSTANTIVE PART IN THE JUDGMENT BUT ONLY GIVES EFFECT TO THE REAL INTENTION OF THE COURT.
‘‘The grant of this application does not in any way vary the operative and substantive parts of the court’s decision. Rather, it gives effect to the real intention of the court by correcting the mistake which has arisen from an accidental slip. So be it.’’ PER. M. D. MUHAMMED, J.S.C
Statutes Referred to:
Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended
Supreme Court Rules