COURT – DUTY OF COURT – Whether a court of law has the legal duty to confine itself only to authorities cited by the parties


“…Also that a Court of law is not confined to only the legal authorities cited to it by counsel nor does the Court need to give counsel notice of the authorities or law it intends to use. I agree that in keeping with Section 74(1) of the Evidence Act which provides thus:- “The Court shall take judicial notice of all laws and enactments and any subsidiary legislation made thereunder having the force of law now heretofore in force, or hereafter to be in force in any part of Nigeria”, that the Court would utilise any such law. See T.M. Orugbo & Anor v Bulana Una & Ors (2002) 9 SCNJ 12 at 32-33. This Court held that “A Court of law has no legal duty to confine itself only to authorities cited by the parties. It can, in an effort to improve its judgment, rely on authorities not cited by the parties. Historical books or whatever books are authorities and the Koko District Customary Court was free to make use of them in its judgment. That per se is not breach of fair hearing, not even the twin rules of natural justice. The Court is under no duty to give notice to the parties that it intends to use a particular book. That will be a ridiculous situation.” Per PETER-ODILI, JSC in ADEGBANKE v. OJELABI & ORS (2021-LCER-40456-SC) (Pp 10 – 11 Paras F – F)

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