In a case where the Plaintiff’s submission was on Pre-action Notice, legal tips submitted that the said Plaintiff’s submission be discountenanced.
Pre-action Notice is a shield or sword that is applicable to and can only be applicable to or raised by a Defendant in a matter who is statutorily entitled to a Pre-action Notice and not by a Plaintiff.
In this scenario, it is the Plaintiff that stood for the Defendant and not the opposite. Where counsel places reliance on a decision in an earlier case which was based on this principle, will be held not to be apposite in issue, rather the gambit of the said case was strictly on another principle of pre-action notice. Thus, legal tips urged the court to discountenance the application because it did not on all grounds fall within the scope in issue.
It is the law that a case is an authority for what it decides based on the facts and does not apply across board generally in all and every case. In the Supreme Court Case of Dantiye v. A.P.C (2021) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1808) 381 at Pg 414, at paras A-C the court held;
“A judgment should always be read in the light of the facts on which the case was decided. The rules of stare decisis do not (sic) allow courts to apply the ratio of a case across the board and with little regard to the facts of the case before them. Each case stands on its own and an earlier judicial authority is only of use where the facts are apposite or similar to the case at hand and not an authority applied in the air to each and every case that seems to bear a semblance of similarities. [A.-G., Lagos State v. Eko Hotels Ltd. (2018) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1619) 518; A.P.G.A. v. Oye (2019) 2 NWLR (Pt. 1657) 472.
Cases are decided on the basis of their own peculiar facts. Thus, every case is an authority for the facts which it decides. In other words, a judgment is an authority for what it actually decides. See; Dingayadi v. INEC (2011) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1255) 347; Emeka v. Okadigbo (2012) 18 NWLR (Pt.1331).
The Supreme Court in Oni v. Gov. Ekiti State (2019) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1664) 1 at 19-20, paras F-A held;
“It is one thing to cite an authority, and another thing to apply it to a case since a decision is only an authority for what it decides nothing more and each case is considered on its particular facts. it is the facts and circumstances of any given case that frame the issues for decision in a particular case. Pronouncements of court, whether they are rationes decidendi or obiter dicta, must be inextricably and intimately related to the facts of the given case. Citing the pronouncements without relating them to the facts that induced them will be citing them out of their proper context for without facts, it is impossible to know the law on those facts. [Skye Bank v. Akinpelu (2010) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1198) 179; Adegoke Motors Ltd. v. Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 109) 250.
It is, indeed imperative for counsel to take judicial notice of this.
LEGAL TIPS is anchored by Ms CIA Ofoegbunam, an Abuja-based lawyer who is passionate about legal practice. LEGAL TIPS offers quick hints on substantive law, as well as rules of practice and procedure, and serves as a handy reference guide to lawyers, especially in court. Published on a weekly basis, the LEGAL TIPS Series is CIA’s modest contribution to legal development in Nigeria.