The law of torts is constantly undergoing evolution till the present day. A very good example of this is the fact that till 1932, the tort of nuisance was not recognised by the house of Lords. However today, the vast majority of cases brought under the law of torts lie under the tort of nuisance. To understand how the law of torts is evolving, it would be best to understand how it came to Nigeria.
The law of torts is part of the common law of England. Thus, when the rules of common law, equity and Statutes of General Application were applied in Nigeria, the law of torts came along with them. The major statutes that brought the common law, equity and statutes of general application in existence by Januray 1 1900 into Nigeria were the Supreme Court Ordinance 1914, the Interpretation Act and High Court Laws of the various regions.
The Western Region Legisture in enacting the Law of England (Applicable) Law excluded the operations of statutes of general applications in areas in which it had legislative competence. The western regional legislature then reenacted relevant stautes of general application mutatis mutandis in order to cater for gaps that would have been created by the inapplication of English statutes.
It is generally accepted that stautes of general applications in existence on January 1 1900 are the only ones that can be applied in Nigeria. However, doctrines of common law and equity currently being applied in England should be applied in Nigeria provided that:
- It is not in conflict with any Nigerian Statute of case law.
- The jurisdiction of the court in question permits it to apply English law. Subject to the overriding power of the court in question to determine the current state of common law in England.
Flowing from this, it is the duty of legislatures in Nigeria; both Federal, State and Local Government, to make relevant laws for the Nigerian populace. It is in this wise that some Nigerian legislations are mutatis mutandis with the relevant English stautes. Examples include the Defamation Law, Law Reform(torts) Law, Fatal Accidents Law, Food and Drugs Act and so on.
- Lecture on Law of Torts by Professor R.A Salman
- National Open University
Author: Olanrewaju Olamide
Olamide is an avid reader who believes that no knowledge is wasted. If he is not surfing the internet, he would be doing something else to get more information, whatever that is.