JOINDER OF PARTIES (MISJOINDER OF PARTIES)
Nigerian jurisprudence generally allows the joinder of a person as co-plaintiff or co-defendant to a suit pending before a court of first instance. Thus, under most of the rules of the courts of first instance, an application may be made by a party to a suit for the joinder of another person as a co-plaintiff or co-defendant or by a non-party for joinder as a co-plaintiff or co-defendant. The circumstances under which such joinder will be permitted are set out in the respective rules of court.
The civil cases, start with the institution of the case by one party against the another party and the competent court decides the rights and liabilities of the parties. The question of joinder of parties may arise either as regards the plaintiffs or as regards the defendants. An Act may be done by a single individual and may adversely affect another individual. In that case, the question of joinder of parties does not arise at all. The question of joinder of parties arises only when an Act is done by two or more persons or it affects to two or more persons
Non-joinder or misjoinder of a party cannot be a basis for ousting the jurisdiction of a competent court of law. Where there is a non-joinder of a relevant party, the remedy is not in ousting the jurisdiction of the court, which could lead to a subsequent striking out of the matter, but for the court to join the necessary party, whether as plaintiff or as defendant. The fact that anecessary party to the action has not been joined will not render the action a nullity.
The issue of joining a party, not joining a party or wrongly joining a party is one that every counsel must be meticulous about. It is incumbent on every counsel to know when to join a party or when not to join a party in an action.
The question of addition of parties is essentially a judicial discretion that has to be exercised one way or the other in the light of the facts and circumstances of each case. The court may hold the opinion that adding a party would be better so as to enable it to effectually and completely adjudicate upon the controversy. Care must be taken at all times to ensure that necessary parties to an action are not negligently excluded. In this regard, it is the responsibility of the claimant to make parties to the action all those whose presence are necessary for the complete and effective resolution of all the issues in controversy in the suit. At the same time, the duty is also placed on the claimant to ensure that non necessary parties to a action are not joined in the suit to save the court the delay(s) associated with disposing of such issues.
WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM
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