Jul 26, 2016

Decision Of A Court With Competent Jurisdiction – Meaning And Effect Of

“In this Constitution unless it is otherwise expressly provided or the context otherwise requires- “decision” means, in relation to a court, any determination of that court and includes judgment; decree, order conviction, sentence or recommendation”.

It is trite that the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction no matter its nature is absolute and binding on all and sundry without question until such decision is legally and legitimately set aside by a competent court of appellate jurisdiction. As stated in Section 318 (1) above, the decision of a court varies from judgment to decree, order, conviction, sentence and recommendation. The decision of a court of competent jurisdiction could be either final or interim in nature.

A final decision of a court as the name connotes is final and permanent with respect to that suit and the court becomes functo officio i.e. the court cannot revisit same. The only option available to any aggrieved party in such instance will be to have same set aside either in its entirety or in part, by a competent court of appellate jurisdiction. Examples of final decisions are conviction, sentence and decree. An interim decision on the other hand is neither final nor permanent. As the word ‘interim’ connotes, it is made to last for a specific period of time, usually pending the determination of the suit or a motion on notice. The coming to an end of an interim order of a court of competent jurisdiction does not adversely affect whatever such order was meant to achieve or had achieved and examples of interim decisions are court orders and recommendations.

The fact of a decision being final or interim does not affect its application and effectiveness. A decision of a court with competent jurisdiction remains valid and enforceable and must at all times be obeyed. Whether or not an appellate court will have come to a different decision compared to that of a trial court, even at that, appellate courts do not ordinarily intervene as matters of practice in decisions which border on the exercise of discretion by the lower court. An appellate court will only interfere/intervene where it considers that the exercise of discretion by such lower court – was wrongly exercised based on wrong or erroneous premise; or was perverse; or where there was a violation of some principles of law or procedure- such as where the lower court took irrelevant materials into consideration or failed to consider relevant materials in arriving at its decision; and in all other circumstance where such exercise would occasion a miscarriage of justice.

When a court makes an order or give a final judgment, every person against or in respect of whom such order is made have an obligation to obey it unless and until that order is discharged. This is because courts are recognized as the hallowed chambers of justices, where even-handed justice is meted out to all and sundry, without sentiment, emotion, favoritism or being unnecessarily embroiled in class legalism.

I hope this write up was beneficial to you. You are welcomed to leave your questions, comments, constructive criticism, suggestions, new ideas, contributions etc in the comment section or my email address which is thelawdenike@gmail.com I look forward to reading from your comments.

  • KUBOR V DICKSON (2013) 4 NWLR PART 1345 PG. 534
  • AHMED V COP BAUCHI STATE (2012) 9 NWLR PART 130-131 Para. E-A, IHUNWO V. IHUNWO (2013) 8 NWLR PART 1357 P. 576
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Ed's Note - This article was originally posted here
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