Pilot Law

Brief court decision on civil wrongs


By Safi Jimba

General Principle of Liability (XII)
Held: (1) that under section 36, Customary Courts Law in 1957, the injured person has an option to reject or accept the offer of compensation; (2) that since the plaintiff/respondent had not taken any step in receiving the compensation aware by the customary court, he is not barred from bringing action for damages for the assault.
Section 36 of the Customary Courts Law contains no provision to effect that, in default of payment of the compensation, the action should suffer the punishment of imprisonment. The position seems that, whereas in Ghana the payment of the fine from which the of compensation is to be deducted or the imprisonment of the accused default of the payment of the fine whether the compensation accepted or received, is a bar against the institution of a civil action damages by the claimant, in this region it is the acceptance of the compensation or the receipt of which bars the civil action.”
The respondents brought a civil action in the magistrate’s court for damages for assault and battery. The appellants, contending that the medical evidence for the plaintiff disclosed that they had committed an offence against section 355  of the Criminal Code (cap. 42 of the Laws of Nigeria –  a felony) applied to the magistrate to stay proceedings until they had been prosecuted or a reasonable excuse shown for not prosecuting them. The magistrate refused to stay the action and no evidence was advanced by the appellant to prove an offence under section 355 of the Criminal Code.
To be continued next week

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