Samuel Toriola & Ors V. Gabriel Arewa (1949)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Claim in Native Court for ” Ishakole ” described as ” rent ” in relation to land —Transfer to Magistrate’s Court pursuant to Native Courts Ordinance, section 28—Jurisdiction of Magistrate’s Court—Protectorate Courts Ordinance, 1933, section 32—Conflict of previous decisions—Magistrates’ Courts Ordinance, section 19—Defendants sued jointly–Cause of action against each severally—Magistrates’ Courts Rules, Order II, rule 2—English R.S.C. Order XVI, rule 4.
The plaintiff claimed in a Native Court for goods and money stated to be due as ” Ishakole “. The action was transferred to a Magistrate’s Court by a District Officer under section 28 of the Native Courts Ordinance. Further and better particulars filed in the Magistrate’s Court alleged that the claim was in respect of ” Ishakole “, therein described as ” rent “, in relation to certain land of which the defendants were alleged to be tenants of the plaintiff. The defendants denied the alleged tenancy, pleaded that the Magistrate’s Court had no jurisdiction, claimed ownership of the land, and counter-claimed for damages for trespass. The Magistrate entered judgment for the plaintiff on both “claim and counter-claim.
On appeal to the Supreme Court it was held that the Magistrate’s Court had jurisdiction, and that the plaintiff had established a common law right to ” Ishakole ” and rent but that the liability of the defendants was several and not joint.
(i) on the question of jurisdiction of the Magistrate’s Court, that this Court had only such jurisdiction as is conferred upon it by statute and the proviso to section 19 of the Magistrates’ Courts Ordinance ousts the original jurisdiction of a Magistrate’s Court in suits (inter alia) which raise any issue as to the title to land or to any interest in land, except (a) where the Governor otherwise directs, and (b) where the suit has been validly transferred to a Magistrate from a Native Court. Thus, where the action is personal and founded in contract (as in the claim here, for rent founded on contract) or in tort (as in the counter-claim here, for damages for trespass) the Magistrate had jurisdiction even though in the course of his adjudication issues relating to title to land were raised;
on the question whether, as the cause of action lay against the defendants severally, they ought to have been sued together, that although this was a point well taken, the defendants were in no way prejudiced or embarrassed by the course of the proceedings to which they raised but one joint defence.
Appeal dismissed but Judgement of Supreme Court as to costs varied.