From the Court

Brief court decisions on civil wrongs


By Safi Jimba

General Principle of Liability (XVI)
Wills J. said: “The authorities which have been referred to leave no room for doubt that no action can be maintained for a civil injury resulting to the plaintiff from a felonious act on the part of the defendant, until public justice has been vindicated by a prosecution of the criminal.”
In Smith v. Selwyn ([1947] 3 K.B.  96 AT 105), Swinfen Eady L.J. cited Lord Tenterden’s observation in Stone v. Marsh (1827) 6 B. & c. 551, AT 564), that the rule is founded on a principle of public policy, and public policy requires that offenders against the law shall be brought to justice.”
E. Nsude v. J. E Anigbo [1958] N.R.N.L.R. 96. HIGH CT. (North) – C.A. SMIOTH AG. S.P.J. AND REED J.
On an appeal, the defendant’s counsel contended that, since the plaintiff had alleged that the defendant had committed the felony of stealing by converting the articles to his own use, the magistrate should have stayed the proceedings until the defendant had been prosecuted for felony.
Held: There was no duty upon the plaintiff to institute criminal proceedings against the defendant, since his claim was not based on the felony.
Per curiam: Even if the magistrate ought to have stayed the proceedings until the defendant had been prosecuted, it would not follow that the civil proceedings before him were a nullity.

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