APPEAL: Grounds of Appeal – The thin line between grounds of law and mixed law and facts – Classification of grounds of appeal – How grounds of appeal can be classified or differentiated


“It is now common knowledge that there is some difficulty in the strict identification of the slim difference between a ground of pure law or law alone on the one hand, and a ground that is of mixed law and facts, in particular, and of facts alone in an appeal, on the other hand. Quite often, the difference lies in the form in which complaints or grievances against the findings/decisions of lower courts are coughed, formulated and drafted in the grounds contained on a Notice of Appeal. Over the years, the appellate courts in which Notices of Appeal are brought and before which the issue of the nature and classification of the grounds of appeal are raised and canvassed repeatedly, have evolved some guidelines in order to ease the difficulty in the proper identification of the grounds of an appeal for the purpose of the exercise of the right of appeal either as of right or with the prior leave of court. The foundation for use, employment and application of the guide lines for identification of the nature of grounds of an appeal is that the appellate court is required to closely and carefully consider and scrutinize the grounds of appeal along with the particulars provided for them in order to put them in their proper classification. Some of the guidelines recognized and established by courts are thus: – (a) Where a ground complains of a misunderstanding and or misapplication of the law to the facts already admitted or proved, it is a ground of law alone. (b) Where a ground of appeal complains or attacks the evaluation of facts before the application of the law, the ground is one of mixed law and facts. (c) Where a ground of appeal questions the appraisal of facts, it is one of pure facts. (d) Where a ground complains of a findings or conclusion which cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts as found, it is one of misconception and application of the law to be one of pure law. (e) Where a ground involves and attacks the interpretation and application of statutory or constitutional provisions, it is one of law. (f) Where ground of appeal questions of the admissibility of evidence, it is aground of law. (g) Where a ground complains about the evaluation of evidence, it is a ground of mixed law and facts. (h) Where a ground raises the question which the court is bound to answer in accordance with a Rules of Court or Statute/law without any discretion, it is a ground of law alone. (i) A ground of appeal that complains of failure by a court to consider and make pronouncement on issue/s properly placed before it, is one of law alone.” Per MOHAMMED LAWAL GARBA, JSC in A.I.C LTD V. TECHNIP & ORS (2023-LCER-48006-SC) @ Pp. 18-20; Paras. E-G.

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