Generally, amendments to pleadings aim to strike a balance between the interests
of fairness, justice, and efficiency. The impact of amendments largely varies from case to case, depending on the specific circumstances of the case, and the court will exercise discretion to ensure that the amendment process is used appropriately as per the rules and precedence of civil procedure.
It is worthy of note that the amendment of pleadings has a retrospective impact and effect accordingly. Therefore, such an amended part of the leadings (the one from which there is an amendment) cannot be used as a basis to decide the matter before the court, See, Nigerian Ports Plc v. B.P.P. Ltd. (2006) 7 NWLR (Pt. 979) 323.
Where pleadings are amended, what stood before the amendment is no longer material in determining the issues between the parties. The amendment speaks from the date the original pleadings were filed. The Supreme Court in Uzodinma v. Izunaso (2011) 17 NWLR (Pt.1275) 28 at 88 paras. C-D held;
“The effect of the amendment of a pleading or a writ of summons is that the amendment takes effect from the date of the original document. Thus, if leave is granted and pleadings or a writ of summons is duly amended, the suit continues as though the pleadings or writ of summons had been in the amended form right from its original date. The amendment thus takes effect retrospectively from the date of the pleadings or writ of summons. [Oguma Associated Co. (Nig.) Ltd. v. I.B.W.A. Ltd. (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt. 73) 658; Adewunmi v. A.-G., Ekiti State (2002) 2 NWLR (Pt. 751) 474.”
For the sake of certainty and finality, each party is bound by his pleading and cannot be allowed to raise a different or fresh case without (due amendment properly made), each party thus knows the case he has to meet and cannot be taken by surprise at the trial. The court itself is as much bound by the pleadings of the parties. It is no part of the duty or function of the court to enter upon any inquiry into the case before it other than to adjudicate upon the specific matters in dispute which the parties themselves have raised by their pleadings.
Other impacts of pleadings are;
Shaping the Case:
Amendments to pleadings can significantly reshape the case by adding new claims, defenses, or parties. They allow parties to refine their legal and factual arguments, introduce new evidence or legal theories, and respond to developments or discoveries during the litigation process.
Amendments to pleadings may have procedural implications, such as the need for additional discovery, the possibility of additional motions or hearings, or the potential for adjournments or delays in the proceedings. The impact will depend on the nature and timing of the amendments and how they affect the overall course of the litigation.
Amendments to pleadings may require adjustments to case management, such as revised schedules, additional hearings, or the need to reevaluate settlement options. The court may need to reassess the case management plan to accommodate the amendments and ensure a fair and efficient resolution of the dispute.
Prejudice and Procedural Safeguards:
The impact of amendments on civil litigation will also depend on whether there is any prejudice to the opposing party. If an amendment is allowed that causes undue prejudice, it may affect the fairness and integrity of the litigation process. In such cases, the court may impose procedural safeguards or conditions to mitigate any potential harm.
Consequently, putting facts in proper perspectives, it can also result in delay, increased complexity, additional costs, and the potential for prejudice to the opposing party.