Page images

"Sheriff" shall include a Deputy Sheriff and any person lawfully authorized to execute the process of the Court.

"Registrar" shall include the Chief Registrar and every Registrar and Deputy Registrar.

"Solicitor" shall include Attorney.

"District Commissioner" shall include an Assistant District Commissioner holding a judicial warrant.


'Attorney-General" shall include Solicitor-General.

"Cause" shall include any action, suit or other original proceeding between a plaintiff and a defendant, and any criminal proceeding.

"Suit" shall include action, and shall mean a civil proceeding commenced by writ of summons or in such other manner as may be prescribed by Rules of Court, and shall not include a criminal proceeding.

"Matter" shall include every proceeding in the Court, not in a


"Cause of action " in suits founded on contract shall not necessarily mean the whole cause of action; but a cause of action shall be deemed to have arisen within the jurisdiction if the contract was made therein, though the breach may have occurred elsewhere, and also if the breach occurred within the jurisdiction, though the contract may have been made elsewhere.

"Plaintiff" shall include every person asking any relief (otherwise than by way of counter-claim as a defendant) against any other person by any form of proceeding, whether writ, petition or otherwise.

"Petitioner" shall include every person making any application to the Court otherwise than as against any defendant. "Defendant" shall include every person served with any writ of summons or process, or served with notice of, or entitled to attend, any proceedings in a civil cause, and also every person charged under any process of the Court with any crime or offence.

"Committed for trial" includes every case of a person ordered to be tried on information, whether imprisoned or admitted to bail.

"Judgment" and "Decree" shall be deemed synonymous


"Execution Creditor" shall include every person having title to enforce a judgment or order by process of execution. "Judgment Debtor" shall include every person ordered by a judgment or order in a civil cause or matter to pay money, or to do or abstain from doing any act.

"Office copy" means a copy, either made under direction of the Court or produced to the proper officer of the Court for examination with the original, and examined by him therewith, and in either case certified by him as correct. (4 of 1876, s. 2, amended.)

Establishment of Supreme Court.



3. There shall be a Court which shall be called the Supreme Court of the Colony of Southern Nigeria, and shall constitute the Supreme Court of Judicature for the Colony and Protectorate. (1 of 1888, s. 2, amended.)

4. The Court shall consist of a Chief Justice and such Judge of the Court. or Judges as the Governor shall from time to time appoint by Letters Patent under the Public Seal of the Colony in accordance with such instructions as he may receive from His Majesty; and also of the Chief Justice and every Judge of the Supreme Court of the Gold Coast Colony, and of the Chief Justice and every Judge of the Supreme Court of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, and the said Chief Justices and Judges of the Supreme Courts of the Gold Coast Colony and of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria respectively, shall be Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court of the Colony.

Precedence of

Powers of

The Court shall be deemed to be duly constituted notwithstanding any vacancy in the office of Chief Justice or of any Puisne Judge thereof. (24 of 1902, s. 3, part.)

5. The Chief Justice of the Colony for the time being shall be President of the Court and the other Judges shall take precedence after him in the following order, namely:


(i) The Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts of the Gold Coast Colony and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria holding permanent appointments as such, according to the priority of their respective appointments.

(ii) The Acting Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts above mentioned holding permanent appointments as Judges thereof according to the priority of their respective permanent appointments.

(iii) The Acting Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts abovementioned not holding permanent appointments as Judges according to the priority of their respective acting appointments.

(iv) Other Puisne Judges of the Court holding permanent appointments as Judges according to the priority of their respective permanent appointments.

(v) Acting Puisne Judges according to the priority of their respective acting appointments. (24 of 1902, s. 4.)

6.-(1) All the Judges of the Court shall have in all respects, save as is herein expressly otherwise provided, equal power, authority and jurisdiction.

(2) Any Judge of the Court may, subject to this Ordinance, and any Rules of Court, exercise all and any part of the original jurisdiction, Civil and Criminal, vested by this Ordinance in the

Court, and for such purpose shall be and form a Court. (1 of 1888, s. 5, part.)

its constitu

7. The Full Court shall be a Court of Appeal, and for this Full Court to purpose shall be fully constituted by two of the Judges, but may be Court of consist of three or more Judges, of whom the Chief Justice or the Appeal: person for the time being discharging the functions of Chief tion. Justice shall at all times be one; and in all matters brought before the Full Court by way of appeal or otherwise, the decision of the majority of the Judges in case they shall not agree in their opinion, shall be taken to be the judgment of the Court; provided that when the Court shall be constituted by an even number of Judges, the Chief Justice, or person for the time being discharging the functions of Chief Justice shall have a casting vote. (1 of 1888, s. 6, amended.)

8. The Court shall have and use, as occasion may require, a Seal of Court. Seal, bearing the inscription "The Supreme Court of the Colony of Southern Nigeria." The Seal of the Court shall be kept by the Chief Justice, and a duplicate thereof by every Puisne Judge. The Chief Justice and Puisne Judges may entrust the Seal or duplicates to such Officers of the Court from time to time as they may respectively think fit. Such Seal shall be the Seal of the Appeal Court of the Colony for all purposes for which it may be required under the provisions of the Rules of Court. (1 of 1888, s. 7.)

9. The sittings of the Court shall usually be held in such build- Place of ings as the Governor shall from time to time assign as Court sitting. Houses for that purpose, but in case the Court shall sit in any other building or place within the limits of its jurisdiction for the transaction of legal business, the proceedings shall be as valid in every respect as if the same had been held in any such Court House. (1 of 1888, s. 8.)


10. Whenever the office of any Judge shall become vacant by Vacancies and death or otherwise, it shall be lawful for the Governor to appoint devolution of another fit and proper person to fill such office until His Majesty's pleasure be known; and in case of the temporary illness or absence of any Judge it shall be lawful for the Governor in his discretion to appoint a fit and proper person to fill the office of such Judge, until he shall resume the duties thereof. Until any appointment be made under this section, the business of the Court shall devolve upon, and be transacted, as far as practicable, by the remaining or continuing Judges; and when such continuing Judges shall be Puisne Judges, the Senior of them shall and may have all the powers and authorities vested in the Chief Justice. (1 of 1888, 8. 9.)


11. The Supreme Court shall be a Superior Court of Record, and in addition to any other jurisdictions conferred by this or any other Ordinance of the Colonial Legislature, shall, within the limits and

To have juris-
diction of
High Court
of Justice in

His Majesty's civil and criminal

subject as in this Ordinance mentioned, possess and exercise all the jurisdiction, powers, and authorities, excepting the jurisdiction and powers of the High Court of Admiralty,* which are vested in or capable of being exercised by His Majesty's High Court of Justice in England, as constituted by the Supreme Court of Judicature Acts, 1873 and 1875. (4 of 1876, s. 11.)

12. The jurisdiction by this Ordinance vested in the Supreme Court shall include all His Majesty's civil jurisdiction which at the jurisdiction in commencement of this Ordinance was, or at any time afterwards Colony and Protectorate

vested in Court.

Power to appoint

may be, exercisable in the Colony and Protectorate, for the judicial hearing and determination of matters in difference, or for the administration or control of property and persons, and also all His Majesty's criminal jurisdiction which at the commencement of this Ordinance was, or at any time afterwards may be, there exercisable for the repression or punishment of crimes or offences, or for the maintenance of order; and all such jurisdiction shall be exercised under and according to the provisions of this Ordinance, and not otherwise. (4 of 1876, s. 12.)

13. The Court shall have all and singular the powers and guardians and authorities of the Lord High Chancellor of England, with full committees of liberty to appoint and control guardians of infants and their lunatics, &c. estates, and also keepers of the persons and estates of idiots, lunatics, and such as being of unsound mind are unable to govern themselves and their estates. (4 of 1876, s. 13.)

How far the law of England in force.

Practice and procedure.

In probate, divorce, and matrimonial causes.


14. The Common Law, the doctrines of Equity, and the Statutes of general application which were in force in England on the 1st day of January, 1900, shall be in force within the jurisdiction of the Court. (4 of 1876, s. 14, amended by 17 of 1906.)

15. The jurisdiction by this Ordinance vested in the Supreme Court shall be exercised (so far as regards procedure and practice) in the manner provided by this and the Criminal Procedure Ordinance, or by such Rules and Orders of Court as may be made pursuant to this Ordinance. (4 of 1876, s. 15.)

16. The jurisdiction hereby conferred upon the Court in Probate, Divorce, and Matrimonial Causes and Proceedings may, subject to this Ordinance and to Rules of Court, be exercised by the Court in conformity with the law and practice for the time being in force in England. (4 of 1876, s. 16.)

Provided that at any time during the progress of a suit for divorce or nullity of marriage or before the decree is made General to act absolute, any person may give information to the Attorney

as King's Proctor.

General of any matter material to the due decision of the case, who may thereupon take such steps as he may deem necessary or expedient; and if from any such information or otherwise, the

* As to Admiralty jurisdiction, see 53 & 54 Vict. c. 27, App.

Attorney-General shall suspect that any parties to the suit are or have been acting in collusion for the purpose of obtaining the divorce or decree of nullity of marriage, as the case may be, contrary to the justice of the case, he may by leave of the Court intervene in the suit, alleging such case of collusion, and retain counsel and subpoena witnesses to prove it; and it shall be lawful for the Court to order the costs of such counsel and witnesses and otherwise arising from such intervention to be paid by the parties, or such of them as it shall see fit, including a wife if she have separate property; but it shall not be lawful for the Court to order any costs arising from any intervention to be paid by the Attorney-General, and the Attorney-General shall be entitled to be paid from the revenue of the Colony all reasonable costs which he may have incurred arising from any such intervention after deducting any costs which may have been paid to him by the parties. And provided further that any rules and regulations for the time being for His Majesty's Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes with respect to the King's Proctor shall, subject to rules of Court, apply to the Attorney-General.

16A. Where an agreement for the payment of interest is sought Miscellaneous to be enforced, and the Court is of opinion that the rate agreed to jurisdiction. be paid is unconscionable and ought not to be enforced by legal Power to process, the Court may give judgment for the payment of interest interest. at such rate as it may think just.


tion of

17. All Imperial Laws declared to extend or apply to the Rules as to Colony or the jurisdiction of the Court shall be in force so far only the applicaas the limits of the local jurisdiction and local circumstances permit, Imperial and subject to any existing or future Ordinances of the Colonial laws. Legislature; and for the purpose of facilitating the application of the said Imperial Laws, it shall be lawful for the Court to construe the same with such verbal alterations, not affecting the substance, as may be necessary to render the same applicable to the matter before the Court; and every Judge or Officer of the Supreme Court having or exercising functions of the like kind, or analogous to the functions of any Judge or Officer referred to in any such law, shall be deemed to be within the meaning of the enactments thereof relating to such last-mentioned Judge or Officer; and whenever the Great Seal or any other seal is mentioned in any such statute it shall be read as if the seal of the Supreme Court were substituted therefor; and in matters of practice all documents may be written on ordinary paper, notwithstanding any practice or directions as to printing or engrossing on vellum, parchment, or otherwise. (4 of 1876, s. 17.)


18. In every civil cause or matter which shall come in dependence Law and in the Supreme Court, Law and Equity shall be administered Equity to be concurrently; and the Court in the exercise of the jurisdiction administered. vested in it by this Ordinance shall have power to grant, and shall grant, either absolutely on such reasonable terms and condi

S.N.-VOL. I.


« PreviousContinue »