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Formulating Grounds of Appeal: A Ground of Appeal Must Attack the Ratio Decidendi – By Chinyere Obasi

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By Chinyere Obasi

In appeal matters, counsel must be careful in formulating grounds of appeal and issues for determination lest they be struck out for being incompetent. The grounds of appeal must attack the ratio decidendi of the judgment complained of.

In C.C.B. Plc V. EKPERI (2007) 3 NWLR (pt. 1022) page 493 at 508, the Supreme Court per Onnonghen J.S.C. in the lead judgment stated that:

 “A ground of appeal must arise from or relate to the judgment of the court being appealed against.  Furthermore, it must be a complaint against the ratio decidendi of the judgment, and not an obiter dictum in the judgment”

The Supreme Court also stated the law in YADIS (Nig) Ltd V. G.N.I.C. Ltd (2007) 14 NWLR (pt. 1055) Page 584 at 591 as follows:

“An issue for determination, to be competent, must be formulated from the ground(s) of appeal filed in the appeal or in the cross-appeal, as the case may be, which ground(s) must attack the ratio decidendi of the case, otherwise the issue will be incompetent and liable to be struck out”

 However the apex court had alluded in decided cases that an obiter dictum sometimes may not easily be separated from the ratio decidendi.

In COKER V UBA PLC [1997] 2 NWLR PT 490 at pg 664 the Supreme Court stated that:

“An appeal is usually against a ratio and not normally against an obiter except in cases where the obiter is so clearly linked with the ratio as to be deemed to have radically influenced the latter.”

But notwithstanding the Coker case above, a ground of appeal must at all times attack the ratio decidendi.

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