HIGH COURT LAW
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
Constitution of the High Court
Jurisdiction and Law
(2) Rules as to the application of Statutes.
Sittings and Distribution of Business
General Provisions as to Trial and Procedure
Officers of the Court
Commissioners of Oaths – Notaries Public
Representation of Parties
Rules of Court
HIGH COURT LAW
A Law relating to the High Court of Justice for Cross River State of Nigeria and for other purposes relating to the Administration of Justice. [E.R.N. 20 of 1955, 27 of 1955, 29 of 1955, 21 of 1956, (see 69 and 2nd Schedule), 14 of 1960. E.N. 26 of 1960, 5 of 1961. E.N.L.N. 79 of 1961. E.N. 21 of 1962. 1965 No. 2. 1966 No. 31. 1973 No. 7. 1974 No. 9. 1976 Decree No. 42. 1978 No. 11]
(3rd January, 1955)
Constitution of the High Court
The Court shall be called the High Court of Cross River State of Nigeria.
For the purposes of section 270 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Judges of the Court shall be—
(a) the Chief Judge of the State; and
(b) fourteen other judges.
A person holding the office of Chief Judge, or other Judge, shall vacate his office when he attains the age of sixty-five years.
(1) The salary of—
(a) the Chief Judge is a sum not less than seven thousand six hundred naira, and
(b) a judge, other than the Chief Judge, is a sum of not less than six thousand six hundred naira.
(2) There shall also be paid to each judge on account of expenses incurred in connection with his office or otherwise such allowances as are considered reasonable by the Governor.
A person may be appointed to act as judge of the court if he is qualified to be appointed a judge under that Constitution.
Subject to the provisions of any written law, all the judges of the court shall have and may exercise in all respects equal power, authority and jurisdiction; and any judge may exercise all and any part of the jurisdiction by this Law or otherwise vested in the court, and for such purpose shall be and form a court.
(1) In the absence of the Chief Judge, the acting Chief Judge shall have precedence over all other judges.
(2) Other than the Chief Judge or, as the case may be, the acting Chief Judge, the judges shall have precedence in the order in which they were first appointed judges in Nigeria.
The court shall have and use, as occasion may require a seal, having a device or impression of the Arms of Cross River State, with the inscription “The High Court of Cross River State”.
Jurisdiction and Law
(1) The court shall be a superior court of record and in addition to any other jurisdiction conferred by this Law or any other written law shall, within the limits and subject as is mentioned in this Law or any other written law, possess and exercise all the jurisdiction, powers and authorities which were on the thirtieth day of September, 1960, vested in the High Court of Justice in England. *In addition to the jurisdiction conferred upon I by this Part, the High Court has had conferred upon it by the State Courts (Federal Jurisdiction) Act (F. & L. 1958, Cap. 177) jurisdiction in matters which are in the exclusive legislative competence of the Federal legislature including jurisdiction in divorce and matrimonial causes. Also there is the following provision which was inserted by L.N. 47 of 1955 in which has become the Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (F. & L. 1958, Cap. 89) and is to be seen in section 44 thereof: “44. (1) Where jurisdiction is conferred by any Law upon a High Court or a magistrate’s court established for a State with respect to—
(a) the summary trial and conviction; or
(b) the examination and commitment for trial on indictment; or
(c) the trial and conviction on indictment, of offenders or persons charged with offences against the laws of the State and with respect to the hearing and determination of appeals arising out of any such trial or conviction or out of any proceedings connected therewith, such court shall, except in so far as other provision is made by law in force in the State, have the like jurisdiction with respect to offenders or persons charged with offences against a Federal law committed in the State or who may lawfully be tried for offences committed elsewhere.
(2) In this section ‘Federal Law’ means any law enacted by the National Assembly or having effect as if so enacted, which relates to a matter within the exclusive legislative competence of the National Assembly.”
(2) Subject to the provisions of sections 10, 11, and 12 of this Law and of section 33 of the Rent Control and Recovery of Premises Law, any jurisdiction vested in the court shall include the judicial hearing and determination of matters in difference, the administration or control of property or persons, and the power to appoint or control guardians of infants and their estates, and also keepers of the estates of idiots, lunatics and such as being of unsound mind are unable to govern themselves and their estates.
(3) Subject to the provisions of this Law, the jurisdiction vested in the court shall include all Her Majesty’s criminal jurisdiction which at the commencement of this Law was, or at any time afterwards may be, exercisable within the jurisdiction of the court for the repression or punishment of crimes or offences or for the maintenance of order.
The court shall not exercise original jurisdiction—
(a) in any dispute between the Federation and the State or between the State and another State, if so far as that dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends;
(b) in any matter arising under any Treaty; or
(c) in any matter affecting consular officers or other representatives of countries or of international or similar organisation outside Nigeria.
(1) (a) If any question as to the interpretation of the Constitution of the Federation or of a State arises in any proceedings in any court established in the State other than the High Court the person presiding in that court may apply to the High Court for an order of the court referring the question to the Supreme Court: Provided that he shall so apply to the court—
(a) if any party to the proceedings so requires; or
(b) if the question appears to him to be a substantial question of law as to the validity of a law enacted by the Federal Legislature.
(b) If any application is made in pursuance of this subsection to the court, the court may, if it sees fit, either make the order or refuse it: Provided that if the court is required by a law enacted by the Federal Legislature to make the order, or if, in the opinion of the court, the application relates to a substantial question of law as to the validity of a law enacted by the Federal Legislature, the court shall make the order.
(2) If any question as to the interpretation of the Constitution of the Federation or of a State arises in any proceedings in the High Court, the Court may, if it sees fit, refer that question to the Supreme Court: Provided that if the court is required by any law enacted by the Federal Legislature to refer the question to the Supreme Court or if, in the opinion of a law enacted by the Federal Legislature, the court shall refer the question to the Supreme Court.
Except in so far as the Governor may by order otherwise direct and except in suits transferred to the High Court under the provisions of the Customary Courts Law the court shall not exercise original jurisdiction in any cause or matter which is subject to the jurisdiction of a customary court relating to marriage, family status, the guardianship of children, or the inheritance or disposition of property on death.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section and except in so far as other provision is made by any law in force in the State the common law of England, the doctrines of equity and the statutes of general application that were in force in England on the first day of January, 1900, shall, in so far as they relate to any matter for which the Legislature of the State is for the time being competent to make laws, be in force within the jurisdiction of the court. Rules as to the application of statutes
(2) (a) All statutes of general application or other Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom which apply within the jurisdiction of the court by reason of this Law or any other written law shall be in force so far only as the limits of the local jurisdiction and local circumstance permit.
(b) It shall be lawful for the court to construe such statutes or Acts with such verbal alterations, not affecting the substance, as may be necessary to make the same applicable to the proceedings before the court.
(c) Every judge or officer of the court, having or exercising functions of the like kind or analogous to the functions of any judge or officer referred to in any such statute or Act, shall be deemed to be within the meaning of the enactments thereof relating to such last mentioned judge or officer.
(d) Whenever the Great Seal or any other seal is mentioned in any such statute or Act it shall be read as if the seal of the court were substituted therefore.
(e) In matters of practice all documents may be written on ordinary paper, notwithstanding any practice or direction as to the printing or engrossing on vellum, parchment or otherwise.
The jurisdiction vested in the court shall be exercised (as far as regards practice and procedure) in the manner provided by this Law and in any other written law or by such rules and orders of court as may be made pursuant to this Law or any other written law, and, in default thereof, in substantial conformity with the law and practice observed in England in the High Court of Justice, on the thirtieth of September, 1960.
The jurisdiction of the court in probate causes and matters shall, subject to the law and to any rules of court, be exercised in conformity with the law and practice in force in England on the thirtieth day of September, 1960.
No jurisdiction conferred upon magistrates’ courts by any written law shall in any way restrict or affect the jurisdiction of the court, but the judges of the court shall have, in all causes and matters, civil and criminal, an original jurisdiction concurrent with the jurisdiction of the magistrates’ courts.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Law or of any other written law in every civil cause or matter which shall be commenced in the court, law and equity shall be administered concurrently.
(2) The court, in the exercise of the jurisdiction vested in it by this Law, shall have power to grant and shall grant, either absolutely or on such reasonable terms and conditions as shall seem just, all such remedies or reliefs whatsoever, interlocutory or final, as any of the parties thereto may appear to be entitled to, in respect of any and every legal or equitable claim or defence properly brought forward by them respectively, or which shall appear in such case or matter; so that, as far as possible, all matters in controversy between the said parties respectively may be completely and finally determined, and all multiplicity of legal proceedings concerning any of such matters avoided.
(3) In all matters in which there is any conflict or variance between the rules of equity and the rules of common law with reference to the same matter, the rules of equity shall prevail.
(1) The court shall observe and enforce the observance of every local custom and shall ot deprive any person of the benefit thereof except when any such custom is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience or incompatible, either directly or by its implication, either of any law for the time being in force.
(2) Such local custom shall be deemed applicable in any civil cause or matter where the parties thereto are persons of Nigerian descent also in any civil cause or matter between persons of Nigerian descent and persons who are not of Nigerian descent where it may appear to the court that substantial injustice would be done to either party by a strict adherence to the rules of any law or laws other than local custom.
(3) No party shall be entitled to claim the benefit of any local custom if it shall appear either from express contract or from the nature of the transaction out of which any civil cause or matter shall have arisen, that such party agreed or must be taken to have agreed that his obligations in connection with any such transaction should be regulated exclusively by some law or laws other than local custom or that such transaction is one which is unknown to local custom.
Where for the purpose of disposing of any cause or matter which is being tried in the court by a judge with or without a jury it is necessary to ascertain the law of any other country or the law or the local custom of any State or part of Nigeria which is applicable to the facts of the case, any question as to the effect of the evidence given with respect to that law or custom shall be decided by the judge alone and not submitted to the jury.
(1) The court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any suit for specific performance or any suit founded upon a breach of contract if the contract was made within the jurisdiction of the court though the breach occurred elsewhere, or if the breach occurred within the jurisdiction though the contract was made elsewhere, or if the contract ought to have been performed within the jurisdiction or if the defendant or one of the defendants resides within the jurisdiction.
(2) The court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil cause or matter other than one referred to in subsection (1) in which the defendant or one of the defendants resides or carries on business within the jurisdiction of the court.
A judgment of any court of competent jurisdiction at any time established by law may, in respect of the same subject matter, be pleaded as a defence to any proceedings commenced in the Cross River State by the unsuccessful party.
The court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any criminal cause or matter notwithstanding—
(a) that it is uncertain whether an offence was committed within the jurisdiction of the court or not; or
(b) that an offence is committed partly within the jurisdiction of the court and partly outside such jurisdiction; or
(c) that an offence is a continuing one and continues to be committed partly within the jurisdiction of the court and partly outside such jurisdiction; or
(d) that an offence consists of several acts some of which are committed within the jurisdiction of the court and some of which are committed outside such jurisdiction.
(1) The court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the court to be just or convenient so to do.
(2) Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the court thinks just.
(3) If, whether before, or at, or after the hearing of any cause or matter, an application is made for an injunction to prevent any threatened or apprehended waste or trespass, the injunction may be granted, if the court thinks fit, whether the person against whom the injunction is sought is or is not in possession under any claim of title or otherwise, or (if out of possession) does or does not claim a right to do the act sought to be restrained under any colour of title, and whether the estates claimed by both or by either of the parties are legal or equitable.
(1) The court shall have all the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice in England to make an order of mandamus requiring any act to be done, or an order of prohibition prohibiting any proceedings or matter, or an order of certiorari removing any proceedings, cause or matter into the High Court or any division thereof for any purpose.
(2) The said orders shall be called respectively an order of mandamus, an order of prohibition and an order of certiorari.
(3) No return shall be made to any such order and no leadings in prohibition shall be allowed, but the order shall be final, subject to any right of appeal there from.
(4) In any written law references to any writ of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari shall be construed as references to the corresponding order and references to the issue or award of any such writ shall be construed as references to the making of the corresponding order.
(1) The court shall have all the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice in England to make an order granting an injunction to restrain any person from acting in an office in which he is not entitled to act where, before the passing of the Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1938, an information in the nature of quo warranto would have lain against him and may (if the case so requires) declare such office to be vacant.
(2) No proceedings for an injunction under this section shall be taken by a person who would not immediately before the commencement of this Law have been entitled to apply for an information in the nature of quo warranto to the former Supreme Court of Nigeria.
(3) Proceedings under this section shall be deemed to be civil proceedings whether for purposes of appeal or otherwise.
The power conferred on the court by sections 24 and 25 of this Law to grant an injunction or to make an order of mandamus or prohibition may be exercised notwithstanding that the injunction or the order is made against an officer or authority of a Government of the Federation as such.
Subject to the provisions of any written law, in the case of any action for a forfeiture brought for non-payment of rent, the court shall have power to give relief in a summary manner and subject to the same terms and conditions in all respects as to payment of rent, costs and otherwise as could on the thirtieth day of September, 1960, have been imposed by the High Court of Justice in England and if the lessee, his executors, administrators or assigns are so relieved they shall hold their demised premises according to the terms of the lease and without the necessity of a new lease.
In civil causes or matters the court may promote reconciliation among the parties thereto and encourage and facilitate the amicable settlement thereof.
In criminal causes the court may promote reconciliation and encourage and facilitate the settlement in an amicable way, of proceedings for common assault or for any other offence not amounting to a felony and not aggravated in degree, on terms of payment or compensation or other terms approved by the court, and may thereupon order the proceedings to be stayed.
The court shall have appellate jurisdiction to hear and determine all appeals from the decisions of magistrates’ courts in civil and criminal causes and matters given in the exercise of the original jurisdiction of the said courts as well as cases stated by magistrates in accordance with the provisions of this Law or of any other written law.
The court shall have appellate jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from subordinate courts in accordance with the provisions of any written law relating thereto.
On the hearing of a civil appeal from the magistrate’s court, the court may draw any inference of fact and either—
(a) confirm, vary or set aside the order of the magistrate; or
(b) order a new trial on such terms as the court thinks just; or
(c) order judgment to be entered for any party; or
(d) make a final or other order on such terms as the court thinks proper to ensure the determination on the merits of the real questions in controversy between the parties.
A person aggrieved by a decision of the High Court in a civil appeal in respect of a State matter may appeal further to the Court of Appeal in the same manner and as if such appeal were from a decision of the High Court in the exercise of its original civil jurisdiction.
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Law to the contrary, a prosecutor aggrieved by a decision of the court in a criminal proceeding to acquit or discharge a person may appeal as of right to the Federal Court of Appeal against such a decision on the ground that it is erroneous in law.
(1) On an appeal from conviction in a magistrate’s court, the court may—
(a) maintain the conviction and dismiss the appeal; or
(b) allow the appeal and set the conviction aside if it appears to the court that the conviction should be set aside on the ground that it was, having regard to the evidence adduced, unreasonable, or that the conviction should be set aside on the ground of a wrong decision on any question of law, or on the ground that there was a substantial miscarriage of justice: Provided that the court, notwithstanding that it is of the opinion that the point raised in the appeal might be decided in favour of the appellant, shall dismiss the appeal if it considers that no substantial miscarriage of justice has actually occurred; or
(c) set aside the conviction and convict the appellant of any offence of which he might lawfully have been convicted by the magistrate upon the evidence and sentence him accordingly; or
(d) set aside the conviction and order that the appellant be retried in a court of competent jurisdiction; or
(e) substitute for the conviction a special finding that the appellant was insane at the time that he did the act or made the omission constituting the offence with which he was charged before the magistrate and, in such a case the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law shall apply in respect of the appellant; or
(f) declare the proceedings before the magistrate to be a nullity either through want of jurisdiction or otherwise and order the appellant to be dealt with by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(2) On an appeal against sentence, the court shall if it appears to the court that a different sentence should have been passed upon the appellant, quash the sentence and pass such other sentence as could have been passed in the magistrate’s court (whether more or less severe) in substitution therefore as the court thinks ought to have been passed, and in any other case shall dismiss the appeal.
On an appeal against an acquittal or dismissal, the High Court—
(a) may affirm the decision of the trial court and dismiss the appeal; or
(b) may remit the case, together with the judgment of the High Court on the case, to the trial court for determination, whether or not by way of rehearing, with such directions as the High Court may think necessary; and
(c) shall make any amendment or any consequential or incidental order that appears just and proper.
(1) A person who, having the right to appeal under the provisions of section 57 and 59 of the Magistrates’ Courts Law, in respect of a State matter and having so appealed, is aggrieved by the decision of the High Court upon his appeal, may appeal further to the Court of Appeal on a matter of law, but not on a matter of fact or against sentence without leave of the Court of Appeal.
(2) Every such further appeal shall be entered within thirty days of the pronouncement of the decision appealed against or within such further time as may be ordered by the High Court.
(3) The provisions of this Law and any other written law relating to judgments which may be pronounced by the High Court on appeals from decisions of magistrates’ courts shall mutatis mutandis apply to any such appeal to the Court of Appeal.
(1) At any time during the hearing in the court of a criminal cause whether in its original or appellate jurisdiction and before the final decision of the court has been announced, a person who is a party to a proceeding before the court and is aggrieved by an order, decision, or other proceedings of the court, may question the proceeding on the ground that it is—
(a) wrong in law, or
(b) in excess of jurisdiction, by applying to the court to state a case for the opinion of the Federal Court of Appeal on the question of law or jurisdiction involved.
(2) Nothing contained in subsection (1) prevents the court, on its own motion, from stating a case for the opinion of the Court of Appeal on any criminal cause pending before it before the final determination of such a cause.
(3) Subject to subsection (4), if the court is of the opinion that an application under this section is frivolous, it may refuse to state a case and, if the applicant so requires, shall give him a certificate stating that the application has been refused.
(4) The court shall not refuse to state a case if the application is made by or under the direction of the Attorney-General.
(5) Where the court refuses to state a case, the Federal Court of Appeal may, on the application of the person who applied for the case to be stated, make an order of mandamus requiring the court to state a case.
Where any person neglects or refuses to comply with a judgment or order directing him to execute any conveyance, contract or other document, or to indorse any negotiable instrument, the court may on such terms and conditions as may be just order that the conveyance, contract or other document shall be executed or that the negotiable instrument shall be indorsed by such person as the court may nominate for that purpose, and a conveyance, contract, document or instrument so executed or indorsed shall operate and be for all purposes as valid as if it had been executed or indorsed by the person originally directed to execute or indorse it.
Sitting and Distribution of Business
(1) For the more convenient dispatch of business the court may sit in two or more divisions.
(2) The Governor on the recommendation of the Chief Judge may divide the State into judicial divisions and the Chief Judge shall thereupon direct one or more judges to sit in each such division.
(3) The Chief Judge may by order appoint the places within such judicial divisions and the times at which the court shall sit for the trial of criminal and civil causes and matters and the disposal of any other legal business pending. At such sittings (which shall be called sessions) all criminal causes shall as far as practicable and subject to the provisions of any written law, be tried and determined in propriety to other business.
The Chief Judge may determine the distribution of the business before the court among the judges thereof and may assign any judicial duty to any judge or judges.
The court may postpone any trial when it considers it in the interests of justice to do so.
The court shall be open throughout the year except on Sundays and Public Holidays for the transaction of legal business.
In case the judge before whom any cause or matter is to be heard shall for any reason, be unable or fail to attend on the day appointed, and no other judge shall attend in his stead the court shall stand adjourned de die in diem until a judge shall attend, or until the court shall be adjourned or closed by order under the hand of a judge.
(1) A judge may by order under his hand and the seal of the court at any time or at any stage of the proceedings before final judgment, and either with or without application from any of the parties thereto, transfer any cause or matter before him to a magistrate’s court or to a judge in the same or any other judicial division.
(2) Such an order may apply either to any particular cause or matter entirely or in respect of any part thereof or proceeding required to be taken thereon.
(1) The Chief Judge may by order under his hand and the seal of the court at any time or at any state of the proceedings before final judgment and either with or without application from any of the parties thereto, transfer any cause or matter before a judge to any other judge.
(2) Such an order may apply either to any particular cause or matter entirely or in respect of any part thereof or proceeding required to be taken thereon.
(3) Such power of transfer may be exercised by the Chief Judge in respect of any causes or matters described in such order and may extend to future causes or matters as well as such as may be before the court at the time of the making of the order.
(4) The Chief Judge may at any time cancel or vary the terms of any order of transfer made under the provisions of subsection (3) of this section.
(1) The court may at any time or at any stage of the proceedings before final judgment by order direct that any civil cause or matter pending before it be transferred to a customary court having jurisdiction in such cause or matter: Provided that this subsection shall not apply to any suit which raises any issue as to the title to land or as to the title to any interest in land.
(2) The court shall not transfer, or retransfer, to a customary court any cause or matter which has been transferred to the High Court under the provisions of the Customary Courts Law.
Every order of transfer shall operate as a stay of proceedings before the judge to whom it is addressed in any cause or matter to which the order extends or is applicable, and the process and proceedings in every such cause or matter, and an attested copy of the record shall be transmitted to the judge, magistrate or customary court to whom the same shall be transferred as the case may be.
There shall be no appeal from any order made by the court under the provisions of section 44, 45, or 46.
General provisions as to Trial and Procedure
Subject to the provisions of this Law or any rules of court made there under or any other written law all civil and criminal causes or matters and all proceedings in the court and all business arising there from shall so far as is practicable and convenient be tried, heard and disposed of by a single judge, and all proceedings in an action subsequent to the hearing or trial down to and including the final judgment or order, shall, so far as practicable and convenient, be taken before the judge before whom the trial or hearing took place.
A judge may, subject to rules of court, exercise in court or in chambers all or any part of the jurisdiction vested in the court, in all such causes and matters and in all such proceedings in any causes or matters as could on the thirtieth day of September, 1960, have been heard in court or in chambers respectively by a single judge of the High Court of Justice in England.
(1) In every cause or matter the presiding judge shall take down in writing the purport of all oral evidence given before the court and minutes of the proceedings and shall sign the same at any adjournment of the case and at the conclusion thereof.
(2) No person shall be entitled as of right, to the inspection of or to a copy of the records so kept save as may be expressly provided for by rules of court.
(3) The record so kept or a copy thereof purporting to be signed and certified as a true copy by the registrar shall at all times, without further proof be admitted as evidence of such proceedings and of the statements, made by witnesses.
Subject to the provisions of this Law, every order made by a judge in chambers, except an order as to costs only which by law is left to the discretion of the court, may upon notice be set aside or discharged by the judge sitting in court.
(1) No judge or person appointed under the provisions of section 5 of this Law to act as a judge shall be liable for any act done or thing said by him in the course of any proceedings before him, provided that at the time he, in good faith, believed himself to have jurisdiction in such proceeding.
(2) No person required or bound to execute any warrant or order issued by a judge or by a person acting as a judge shall be liable in any action for damages in respect of the execution of such warrant or order unless it be proved that he executed either in an unlawful manner.
In any cause or matter the court may on the application of either party, or of its own motion, make such order for the inspection by the court, the party or witnesses, of any movable or immovable property, the inspection of which may be material to the proper determination of the question in dispute, and give such direction respecting such inspection as to the court may seem fit.
(1) Subject to any rules of court a judge may appoint a referee and refer to him for inquiry or report any question arising in any cause or matter other than a criminal proceeding.
(2) The report of a referee may be adopted wholly or partially by the judge and if so adopted may be enforced as a judgment or order to the same effect.
(3) No person shall be appointed a referee under this section without his consent.
(1) In the cause or matter, other than a criminal proceeding—
(a) if all the parties interested who are not under disability consent; or
(b) if the cause or matter requires any prolonged examination of documents or any scientific or local investigation which cannot in the opinion of the court conveniently be conducted by the court through its ordinary officers; or
(c) if the question in dispute consists wholly or in part of accounts, the court may at any time order the whole cause or matter, or any question issue of fact arising therein, to be tried before one or more arbitrators respectively agreed on by the parties.
(2) No person shall be appointed an arbitrator under this section without his consent.
(1) In all cases of reference to a referee or arbitrator, the referee or arbitrator shall be deemed to be an officer of the court, and subject to rules of court shall have such authority, and conduct the reference in such manner as the court may direct.
(2) The report of a referee or award of an arbitrator on any reference shall, unless set aside by the court, be equivalent to a finding of the court.
(3) The remuneration to be paid to a referee or arbitrator to whom any matter is referred under an order of the court shall be determined by the court.
The court shall, in relation to references have such powers as are conferred by the Arbitration Law on the court in relation to submissions.
The court may order that a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum shall issue to bring up a prisoner for examination before a referee or arbitrator.
A referee or arbitrator may at any stage of the proceedings under a reference, and shall if so directed by the court, state in the form of a special case for the opinion of the court any question of law arising in the course of the reference.
A reference or order made under the provisions of this Part relating to inquiries by referees and trials by arbitrators may be made on such terms as to costs or otherwise as the court thinks fit.
Officers of the Court
(1) The Judicial Service Commission may from time to time appoint a fit and proper person to be the Chief Registrar of the High Court, who shall perform such duties in execution of the powers and authorities of the court as may from time to time be assigned to him by any rules of court or subject thereto, by any special order of the Chief Judge.
(2) The Public Service Commission may from time to time appoint registrars, and such other officers as may be deemed necessary to any division who shall perform all such duties with respect to business before the court as may be directed by any rules of court or any order of the Chief Judge.
The Registrar shall be the Probate Registrar for Cross River State.
Subject to any rules of court or special orders of the Chief Judge, the Chief Registrar or any registrar appointed under the provisions of section 64 to any division shall perform such duties as were on the thirtieth day of September, 1960, performed by a registrar of the High Court of Justice in England and, in particular, shall issue all summonses, warrants and writs of execution, and shall register all orders and judgments and shall keep a record of all the proceedings
of the court, and shall have the custody and keep an account of all fees and fines payable or paid into court, and of all moneys paid into or out of court, and shall keep proper accounts thereof.
Any registrar appointed under the provisions of section 64 to any division shall be the Taxing Master of the court for that division and shall tax all bills of costs referred to him by the court in accordance with the scale of fees for the time being in force and any rules of court, subject to the review of such taxation by the court.
If any officer of the court, employed to execute an order, wilfully or by neglect or omission loses the opportunity of executing it, then on complaint of the person aggrieved and proof of the fact alleged, the court may, if it thinks fit, order the officer to pay the damages sustained by the person complaining, or part thereof, and the order shall be enforced as an order of the court directing payment of money.
No officer of the court shall or may directly or indirectly or by the intervention of a trustee or otherwise purchase any property sold at execution, and in the event of any such person purchasing or being interested in the purchase of any property at an execution sale, such purchase shall be entirely void: Provided that nothing herein contained shall prevent any such person from purchasing by leave of the court at an execution sale any property which it may be necessary for him to purchase in order to protect the interest of himself, his wife or child.
Commissioners of Oaths – Notaries Public
The Chief Judge may appoint under his hand and the seal of the court, from time to time such and so many persons as may be requisite to be commissioners for taking affidavits and declarations and receiving production of documents or for taking the examination of witnesses, or interrogatories or otherwise, in respect of any proceedings before the court, and any order of the court, for the attendance and examination of witnesses or production of documents before any such commissioner within the jurisdiction of the court, shall be enforced in the same manner as an order to attend and be examined or produce documents before the court.
No action shall be brought against any commissioner in respect of any act or order bona fide performed or made by him in the execution, or supposed execution, of the powers or jurisdiction vested in him, but every such act or order if in excess of such powers and jurisdiction shall be liable to be revised, altered, amended or set aside upon application to the court.
(1) Every notary public shall be deemed to be an officer of the court.
(2) No notary public shall exercise any of his powers as a notary public in any proceedings or matter in which he is interested.
(1) The presiding judge may in any cause or matter order and allow to all persons required to attend or be examined as witnesses, such sum or sums of money as may be specified by rules of court as well as for defraying the reasonable expenses of such witnesses for allowing them a reasonable compensation for their trouble and loss of time.
(2) All sums of money so allowed shall be paid in any civil cause or matter by the party on whose behalf the witness is called, and shall be recoverable as ordinary costs of suit if the court shall so order, and in any criminal cause or matter they shall, unless by the court ordered to be paid by the party convicted or the prosecutor, be paid out of the general revenue of the State.
Subject to the provisions of the Evidence Act, any person summoned as a witness in the court who—
[Cap. E.14 LFN.]
(a) refuses or neglects, without sufficient cause, to appear or to produce any documents required by the summons to be produced; or
(b) refuses to be sworn or make an affirmation or give evidence, shall forfeit a sum not exceeding two hundred naira as the judge may direct: Provided that no person so summoned shall forfeit a sum unless there has been paid or tendered to him at the time of the service of the summons such amount in respect of his expenses as may be prescribed including in such cases as may be prescribed as compensation for loss of time.
Any person present in court, whether a party or not in a cause or matter, may be ordered by the court to give evidence, and to produce any document in his possession or in his power, in the same manner as if he had been summoned to give evidence, or to produce such document and may be treated for any refusal to obey the order of the court as if he had been guilty of a contempt of court.
A judge may issue a warrant under his hand for bringing up any person confined as a prisoner under any sentence, or otherwise, or under civil process to be examined as a witness in any cause or matter pending, or to be inquired of, in the court: Provided that such warrant shall not be granted unless the judge shall have probable grounds for believing that the evidence of the prisoner is likely to prove material.
The superintendent of prisons or person in whose custody such prisoner may be shall forthwith obey such warrant by bringing to the court the prisoner in his custody or by delivering him to an officer of court, as the warrant may order, and if the prisoner shall under the terms of the warrant be delivered to any officer of court, the superintendent of prisons or other person shall not be liable for the escape of such prisoner.
Subject to the provisions of any written law, any person admitted to practise in the Supreme Court shall be entitled to practise in any court throughout Cross River State.
Representation of Parties
(1) Subject to this section, in the case of a prosecution—
(a) by or on behalf of the State, or
(b) by a public officer in his official capacity, the State or that public officer may be represented by—
(i) a law officer;
(ii) a police officer; or
(iii) a legal practitioner duly authorised in that behalf by the Attorney-General or in a revenue case authorised by the head of the department concerned.
(2) In a civil cause or matter in which—
(a) the State; or
(b) a public officer in his official capacity as a party, or in a civil cause or matter affecting the revenues of the State, the State or that public officer may be represented by—
(i) a law officer, or
(ii) a legal practitioner duly authorised in that behalf by the Attorney-General or the head of the department concerned.
(3) In the case of—
(a) a prosecution by or on behalf of a local government, or
(b) a suit brought by or against that local government, the local government may be represented in court, at any state of the proceedings, by—
(i) a legal practitioner, or
(ii) an officer or employee of the local government who shall satisfy the judge that he has the authority to represent the local government.
(4) Where the State is concerned in right of the Government of the Federation, the reference in this section to—
(a) Attorney-General, and
(b) a law officer, shall be construed, as the case may be, as a reference to—
(c) the Attorney-General of the Federation; and
(d) a Federal law officer.
Any legal practitioner or other person doing any act or taking any proceeding in the court in the name or on behalf of another person, not being lawfully authorised thereunto, and knowing himself not to be so authorised shall be deemed guilty of contempt of court.
Whenever in any Law or any document reference is made to the former Supreme Court, such reference shall be read, in so far as the context will permit, to mean a reference to the High Court established under the provisions of this Law and where in any such Law or document reference is made to any judge, registrar or other officer of the former Supreme Court, such reference shall be read so far as the context will permit, to mean a judge, registrar or other officer as aforesaid of the High Court.
* The references in this Part to the “former Supreme Court” are references to the Supreme Court which formerly exercised jurisdiction in the Eastern Region of Nigeria until replaced by the High Court, and not reference to the Supreme Court defined in section 2. That former Supreme Court is not referred to in the Laws included in this edition, but it is in some Laws or former Ordinances, which are not included.
All proceedings instituted, commenced or taken in accordance with the rules or practice of the former Supreme Court in respect of any cause, matter or petition and all appeals from a magistrate’s court pending at the date of the coming into force of this Law in which the High Court has jurisdiction under the provisions of this Law shall be valid and effectual as though they had been instituted, commenced or taken under the provisions of this Law and such proceedings shall continue before the court under the provisions of this Law.
Rules of Court
(1) For the purposes of this Law, there is constituted a committee which shall be called the High Court Rules Committee, consisting of—
(a) the Chief Judge;
(b) a judge appointed by the Chief Judge;
(c) the Attorney-General or a member of his Ministry nominated, for the purpose, by him; or
(d) not more than six legal practitioners appointed, for the purpose by the Chief Judge.
(2) The term of office of any person who is a member of the High Court Rules Committee by virtue of appointment shall be such as may be specified in the appointment.
(3) Subject to the provisions of section 83 no rule shall be valid except if it has been made by the Chief Judge and not less than two other members of the High Court Rules Committee.
(4) The Chief Registrar shall be the Secretary to the High Court Rules Committee.
(1) The High Court Rules Committee may make rules for carrying this Law into effect and in particular for regulating all or any of the following matters—
(a) the pleading, practice and procedure of the court in respect of civil matters connected with the forms to be used and the fees to be payable, their amount and the method and time of payment;
(b) the practice and procedure for election petitions presented under and by virtue of any written law which confers the right to present an election petition to the High Court;
(c) the practice and procedure for appeals from orders of surcharge made by auditors under the provisions of any written law;
(d) the procedure in cases where an order of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari is sought or proceedings are taken for an injunction under section 25;
(e) the employment in causes and fees of legal practitioners and the taxation and recovery of their fees and disbursements;
* The High Court Rules Committee has also been given, by section 5 of the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act (No. 31 of 1960), power to make rules for the purposes set out in the section.
(f) the duties and powers of the Chief Registrar and of the several officers of the court;
(g) the procedure for the grant of probate and letters of administration and for securing the due administration of estates, including the fees to be payable, their amount and the time of payment of the same;
(h) the form and procedure relating to civil and criminal appeals to the court;
(i) the procedure relating to the transfer of civil causes or matters or proceedings within the High Court to any inferior court;
(j) the sittings of the court and of the judges of the court whether sitting in court or in chambers;
(k) the costs in and arising out of civil causes, matters or proceedings in the court;
(l) the taxation and payment of costs in any cause, matter or proceeding before the court;
(m) for prescribing what part of the business, which may be transacted by, and of the jurisdiction which may be exercised by, judges in chambers, may be transacted or exercised by registrars or other officers of the court;
(n) the duties of referees and arbitrators and the practice and procedure with respect to references to referees and arbitrators;
(o) the means by which any judgment or decree of the Supreme Court, of the Federal Court of Appeal, or of any High Court established or to be established elsewhere in Nigeria may be proved or enforced in the State;
(p) the means by which particular facts may be proved, and the mode in which evidence thereof may be given, in any causes, matters or proceedings;
(q) the arrest of absconding debtors and for giving security of their release;
(r) the payment of allowances and travelling expenses of witnesses in civil causes, matters or proceedings;
(s) the imposition of penalties on any person who fails to take any action required by a rule of court or who disobeys any rule of court.
(2) Rules of court made under this section shall apply to all proceedings by or against the State.
(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 82 and 83 the first rules of court shall be made by the Governor and shall come into force on the date on which this Law comes into operation.
(2) Such rules of court which may be for all or any of the purposes specified in subsection (1) of section 82 may be revoked or amended by the High Court Rules Committee at any time.
(3) Rules of court made under this section shall apply to all proceedings by or against the State.
In this Law, unless the context otherwise requires—
“cause” includes any action, suit or other original proceeding between a plaintiff and a defendant and any criminal proceeding;
“Chief Judge” means the Chief Judge of Cross River State; “committed for trial” includes every case of a person ordered to be tried on information, whether imprisoned or admitted to bail;
“defendant” includes every person served with any writ of summons or process, or served with notice of, or entitled to attend as a defendant, any proceeding in a civil cause, and also every person charged under any process of the court with any crime of offence;
“Division” means a Judicial Division of the High Court;
“Federal Republic” means the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
“judge” includes the Chief Judge;
“judgment” includes decree;
“law officer”, where used with reference to—
(i) criminal proceedings, means the Attorney-General;
(ii) civil proceedings, means the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General, a Senior State Counsel or a State Counsel;
“local custom” includes a rule which, in a particular district or among the members of a tribe or clan or class of persons, has, from long usage, obtained the force of law and also local customary law;
“matter” includes every proceeding in the court not in a cause;
“plaintiff” includes every person asking any relief (otherwise than by way of counterclaim as a defendant) against any other person by any form of proceeding, whether the proceeding is by action, suit, petition, motion, summons or otherwise;
“prescribed” means prescribed by rule of court;
“reference” means a reference under an order made by the court under the provisions of Part 5;
“Registrar” includes the Chief Registrar;
“State matter” means a matter with respect to which, by virtue of the Constitution (Basic Provisions) Decree, 1975, the Military Governor has power to make laws, without the prior consent of the Federal Military Government;
“suit” includes action, and a civil proceeding commenced by writ of summons, or in such other manner as may be prescribed by rules of court, but not a criminal proceeding;
“Supreme Court” means the Supreme Court of Nigeria established by the Constitution of the Federation;
“the court” or “the High Court” means the High Court of Justice of Cross River State of Nigeria established by the Constitution of Eastern Nigeria;
“the Court of Appeal” means the Court of Appeal established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic;
“the State” means Cross River State.
This Law may be cited as the High Court Law.
HIGH COURT LAW
List of Subsidiary Legislation
HIGH COURT OF CROSS RIVER STATE
(JUDICIAL DIVISIONS) ORDER
Judicial Division Area Comprising Division
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE (HOURS OF BUSINESS) ORDER 1973
(1) The ordinary hours of sittings of the High Court and the Magistrates’ Courts throughout the State shall continue to be as follows—
Monday to Friday………………… 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
(2) The respective Registries of the High Court and the magistrates’ courts shall remain open throughout the year except on Sundays and Public Holidays (in accordance with section 45 of the High Court Law and section 61 of the Magistrates’ Courts Law) for the transaction and disposal of legal business pending as follows—
Monday to Friday ………………… 7.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.
Saturday…………………………… 7.30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraphs (1) and (2) of this paragraph, any such court shall sit and any such Registry shall remain open (except on Sundays and Public Holidays) for any longer period or periods than that or those prescribed above if necessary or desirable in the interest of the administration of justice in the State.
This Order may be cited as the Administration of Justice (Hours of Business) Order.