Court Of Appeal – Lagos Division – March, 2016
APPEAL NO: CA/L/353/2014
Areas Of Law:
ACTION, APPEAL, COURT, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, WORDS AND PHRASES
Summary Of Facts
The Appellant who was the captain of Lagos Polo Club, wrote a letter dated 18th September, 2009, to the Nigerian Polo Federation calling on the National body to intervene in certain matters, particularly the attempt by the main committee of the 1st Respondent in seeking to convene an Extra ordinary General Meeting for 24th September, 2009, for the purposes of amending Clause 16F and the tenure provisions of the Lagos Polo club. Copy of the letter was sent to the 1st Respondent as well. On receipt of the letter, the president of the Club requested that deliberations on the proposed amendments be suspended. Thereafter a member of the club, Habeeb Fashinro petitioned against the Appellant to the main committee of the Club on the said letter as being injurious to the character and interests of the club. The main committee constituted a subcommittee to investigate. Upon consideration, the sub-committee found that the Appellant’s letter to the Nigerian Polo Federation was not a private correspondence nor written in a private capacity, but in the Appellant’s official capacity, that the explanations offered by the Appellant lacked merit and therefore the letter was injurious to the interest of the 1st Respondent. The sub-committee recommended to the main committee that the Appellant be asked to resign from the club within one week failing which he should be expelled under clause 15(a) of the club’s constitution. The main committee instead suspended the Appellant for 11 months from the club and demanded for a letter of apology from the Appellant in addition to asking him to retract the letter he wrote to the Nigerian Polo Federation. Aggrieved by the said decision of the main committee, the Appellant filed an action at the Federal High Court challenging same. The trial court refused all reliefs sought in the originating summons. Dissatisfied by the decision of the trial court, the Appellant has lodged the instant appeal.
Issues For Determination
➢ Whether having regard to all the facts and evidence presented by the parties, and the applicable law, the lower court was right to have held that the Respondents complied with the provisions of the Lagos Polo Club, Ikoyi, Lagos, Constitution, 1998 particularly Clause 15[A] — [C] in suspending the Appellant as a member of the Club and consequently, refused to interfere with the Respondents’ decision?
➢ Whether having regard to the entire provisions of the Club’s Constitution (particularly Clause 15 [A] — [C]), the Main Committee of the Club could delegate any part of its disciplinary functions to its Disciplinary Sub – Committee, and further affirm and rely on the findings of that sub-committee in reaching its decision to suspend the Appellant?
➢ Whether the lower court’s failure to expressly consider the Appellant’s Further Reply dated 31st October 2011 and his Further Written Address also dated 31st October 2011 were justifiable, having regard to the fact that these processes were incompetent, having been filed contrary to the provisions of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009?
DECISION OF A VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATION – WHETHER THE COURT CAN INTERFERE WITH THE DECISION OF A VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATION
“The trial court held that the general rule is that a court will rarely interfere with decisions of a voluntary association except where rules of natural justice were ignored in arriving at that decision. See the case of Dawkins V Antrobus (1881) 17 CHD 615. That is the general rule but with recognized exceptions and each case is determined on its peculiar facts.” PER Y. B. NIMPAR, J.C.A
FAIR HEARING – MEANING OF FAIR HEARING
“See INEC V Musa (2003) 3 NWLR (Pt. 806) 72 where the apex court held thus:
“Fair hearing in essence, means giving equal opportunity to the parties to be heard in the litigation before the court. Where parties are given opportunity to be heard, they cannot complain of breach of fair hearing principles.” PER Y. B. NIMPAR, J.C.A
DELEGATION OF POWER – RULE ON DELEGATION OF POWER
‘Where delegation of disciplinary power is allowed then the general rule against the delegation of disciplinary powers cannot stand, see Bamgboye V University Of Ilorin (1999) 10 NWLR (Pt. 622) 290 and Morenkeji V Osun State Poly (1998) 11 NWLR (Pt.572) 145.” PER Y. B. NIMPAR, J.C.A
FRAMING OF ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION – A COURT HAS THE DISCRETION TO REFRAME ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
“The trial court cannot be faulted in framing an issue for determination. Abbas Abdullahi Michika V Shehu Inuwa Imam & Ors (2010) LPELR – 4448 (CA), the court held thus:
“Depending on the peculiar facts and circumstances of a case, the court or tribunal has the discretion to reframe or abridge some of the issues by the parties in order to decide the crucial issues of dispute between the parties and so is not bound to consider all the issues in the form or manner presented by the parties if doing so would lead to the resolution of the real points of dispute in the case.”
In the case of Federal Ministry Of Health V Comet Ship Agencies Ltd (10) 13 WRN 1 at 15, the Supreme Court had put the position beyond argument when it held thus: –
“A court can and is entitled to reformulate an issue or issues formulated by a party or counsel in order to give it or them, precision and clarity”. See also Neka V Acb Ltd (2004) 1 SC (1) 32, (2004) 1 SCNJ 193 at 202, Agbareh V Mimra (2008) 2 NWLR (1071) 378 at 410“. Per GARBA, J. C. A.
PER Y. B. NIMPAR, J.C.A
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION- DUTY OF THE COURT IN DETERMINING ISSUES
“In determining issues the court is not bound to list all the material considered one by one in arriving at the decision.” PER Y. B. NIMPAR, J.C.A
JUDICIAL NOTICE -THE COURT IS PRESUMED TO HAVE TAKEN JUDICIAL NOTICE OF ANY DOCUMENT BEFORE IT.
“Except the processes were expressly struck out, all the processes to be relied upon in any application made before the court in the proceeding are judicially noticed, Hon. Zakawanu I. Garuba V. Hon. Ehi Bright Omokhodion NSCQR 2011 (VOL 46) 876.” PER. Y. B. NIMPAR, J.C.A
Statute Referred To
Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009