When the non-professional litigant faced the Supreme Court, ‘chastising’ professionalism
"On the basis of the above-decided cases and the consistent practice of the Supreme Court, I will accept the invitation made to this court by learned counsel for the Defendants and hold that this court decline jurisdiction in the matter," the court held.
An important ingredient in law is reasonableness however to a non-professional litigant, it is not reasonable for the court to expect professionalism from her.
This insistence according to her is inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution and contravenes equity and fair access.
These among others were part of the reliefs sought by Zainabu Naske Bako-Alhassan at the Supreme court.
A prime motive for her per the writ was to seek answers and formal recognition of the legal status of the non-professionals in representing themselves in court.
Even though she admitted that there exists a window in the court system per the Rules of court for non-lawyers to represent themselves, she bemoaned the level of professionalism expected of them.
Again she averred that even though this window has been and continues to be enjoyed by non-lawyers, its application is defective and ineffective due to the above and thus called for recognition of her right to represent and or act for herself in the law courts without any discrimination and or limitations.
In effect, the plaintiff noted that the expectations on her made it seem like ‘the opportunity is offered with one hand and they kept away with the other hand.’
The Supreme Court in the opinion of Dotse(JSC) made a finding relative to the fact that neither the constitution nor C.I. 16 prohibit parties or persons who are non-lawyers from acting for themselves in courts if they so wish.
Also, the court made an observation relative to the plaintiff’s non-compliance with the fine details of Rules 45 and 46 of C.I. 16 but allowed her writ.
The court then held on the first issue relative to asking for special concessions for the self-represented non-professional litigant that it cannot have a pluralistic or dualist system of procedure for the self-represented and the represented litigant noting that the rights being enjoyed by the plaintiff, as a non-professional and self-represented litigant have not been infringed in any way and thus dismissed the same.
On the second issue of whether or not the plaintiff’s suit is properly cognizable before the court, their lordships noted that the plaintiff was under some wrong notion that self-represented non-lawyer litigants have serious constitutional or legislative prejudices which work against them in the pursuit of their cases in court.
Additionally, the court noted that the plaintiff was unable to neither identify any constitutional provision that had been infringed nor any alleged infringement whatsoever.
The court thus declined the plaintiff’s invitation and dismissed the suit accordingly.
Read the full case here.