Introduction to Final Written Address.
At the close of hearing, parties are allowed to address court on the merits of their case. On the part of the plaintiff, the plaintiff is expected to articulate in writing, legal arguments and submission that will help the court to determine the matter in contention in favour of the plaintiff.
The Defendant is also expected to address the court in writing, arguments and submissions on why the court should refuse the prayers of the plaintiff before the court and enter judgement in Defendant’s favour.
The legal arguments in writing filled by parties at the close of hearing, which articulates the point of the parties as to be entitled to the judgement of court is called “Final written address”.
However, in lower court like customary courts and magistrate court, it can be final written address or Final address of parties. The reason is that at lower courts, final address can be written, it can as well be done orally before the court, with leave of court.
Again, final written address is the same thing as written address in law. It is just change in nomenclature.
CONTENT OF FINAL WRITTEN ADDRESS
A good written address must contain the following:
- The heading of the Court where it is to be filed
- The Suit Number of the case
- The Names and designation of parties
- The heading of the address
- The body of the written address which shall contain:
- Brief summary of facts
- Issues for determinination
- Legal Argument
- The address will be dated and signed by the lawyer who drafted it.
Who file the written address first?
The person who files first, depends on the provisions of the High Court Rule of that State. In Ebonyi, Lagos, and under the Uniform Rule,that is applicable in Abuja, the Defendant files his written address first where he called witnesses and same shall be filed within 21 days from the date of close of hearing. See Order 30 Rule 14 of the Ebonyi State High Court Rule 2008
Upon the filing and service of same on the Plaintiff by the Defendant, the plaintiff shall file his written address within 21 days from the date of the service and the Defendant upon receipt of same shall where necessary, file his reply on point of law within 7 days.
But where the Defendant didn’t call witnesses, the Plaintiff files first. See Order 30 Rule 13 of the the Ebonyi State High Court Rule 2008
Again, note that whoever filed first, shall be entitled to Reply on point of law. Order 30 Rule 16 the Ebonyi State High Court Rule 2008
What to do when you are filing final written address out of time?
Filing of written addresses out of time means that the party filing same is filing the said address after the time prescribed by rules of court has elapsed.
The party filing out of time is expected to file motion for extension of time supported by affidavit and written address.
The motion will contain three prayers:
a. AN ORDER granting leave to the Applicant to file and serve the Applicant’s final written address out of time.
b. AN ORDER deeming the said Applicant’s final written address filed out of time as properly filed and served.
c.AND FOR SUCH FURTHER ORDER OR ORDERS as the honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.
The essence of application for extension of time is first: The party filing it, is out of time prescribed by Rules of Court. Secondly, Court has power, under the provisions of the various rules of Court to extend date and time within which a particular act required by the rule can be done. Forinstance, See Order 44 Rule 4 of the Ebonyi State High Court Rule
Again, final address filed out of time is not incompetent as noted by dnllegalandstyele and same can be regularized by motion for extension of time.
Adoption of Final Written Addresses.
Whether in superior courts of record or in inferior courts of records, final written addresses are meant to be adopted. This is why, one of the steps in civil lawsuit is the adoption of final written address.
Unlike inferior courts were the final address may not be written, the High Court Civil Procedure Rules of the various States in Nigeria made provisions for final written addresses and that same shall be in writing and same shall also be adopted.
How to move or adopt final written address.
On the date slated for adoption of final written address,the party who filed first, will adopt first. In the case of the Defendant, the Defendant counsel adopts thus:
Before my Lord/ your worship is Defendant’s final written address, dated the 19th day of March 2022 and filed on same day. We humbly adopts same as part of our final arguments and submissions in this suit.
Also, your lordship/ your worship, upon the receipt of the Plaintiff’s final address, the Defendant equally filed Reply on point of law and same is dated and filed on the 1st day of April 2022, and we equally adopts the arguments therein as part of our final submission and pray the Court to dismiss the claims of the Plaintiff. (where there is counter claim = and enter judgement in favour of the Defendant.
At the end of the Defendant’s adoption, the Plaintiff Counsel adopts the final written address of the Plaintiff thus:
“Before the Court/my Lord/your worship is Plaintiff final written address, dated the 19th day of March 2022 and filed on the same day. We humbly adopts the arguments therein in support of the Plaintiff’s suit and urge the court to enter judgement in favour of the plaintiff as per the reliefs sought in this suit.
( Counsel can adumbrate if he wishes to by further telling the court” My Lord, by way of adumbration, ….Or may I seek the leave of court to adumbrate on salient points that may help the court in just determination of this suit)
Can final written address take the place of evidence?
No! It cannot take the place of evidence. In other words, written address are only mearnt to articulate the relevants points in the case of a party. A good written address is only persuasive in nature. This is because, it persuade the court to look at the case from the perspective of the party as supported by law.
Still, the address of the parties can never take the place of evidence adduced by parties in the course of trial. The judge is bound to consider every pieces of evidence before it, in giving its judgement. The court is also not bound to adopt the address of parties as it’s judgement.
Thanks for reading.