M. B. A. ADELE (APPLICANT/APPELLANT)
A. W. ELIAS AND OTHERS (OBJECTOR/RESPONDENT)
(1963) All N.L.R. 637
Division: High Court of Lagos
Date of Judgment: 21st November, 1963
Case Number: (Appeal No. LD/83A/63)
Before: De Lestang, C.J.
Appeal from Registrar of Titles.
The applicant/appellant applied for registration under the Registration of Titles Act. He called four witnesses. After the examination of the fourth witness, the Registrar recorded that the case for the applicant/appellant had been closed and then adjourned the proceedings to the 16th August. On the 16th August the Registrar's attention was drawn to the fact that the applicant's/appellant's third witness had not concluded his evidence when the case was last adjourned. He thereupon ruled that the case for the applicant/appellant had not closed.
The applicant/appellant appealed to the High Court on the ground that the Registrar was wrong in law in making an order to re-open his case after he had dosed it.
A Registrar investigating title is not a Court but a Tribunal. It is not bound by the strict rules of procedure and practice applicable to Courts of Law and so long as it acts judicially and does not offend against the principles of natural justice its actions cannot be questioned in a Court of Law.
It is highly probable that the Registrar was right in his view that the cross-examination of the third witness had not been completed. But even if he were wrong there is no rule which prevents him from recalling the witness for cross-examination or otherwise.
Act referred to:-
Registration of Titles Act.
APPEAL from Registrar of-Titles.
Ogunsanya for the Applicant/Appellant.
Kotun (M.O. Kotun with him) for the Objector/Respondent.
De Lestang, C.J.:-This is in effect an appeal against a statement made by the Registrar of Titles in the course of an investigation under the Registration of Titles Act that a witness who had testified for the applicant in the proceedings should be recalled as his cross examination had not been completed. It arises in this way:
An applicant for registration called three witnesses. After the 3rd witness had been examined and cross-examined the proceedings were adjourned to another date, namely the 19th July. There is nothing on the record to how that the cross-examination of the witness had been completed. He was clearly not re-examined.
On the 19th July the proceedings further adjourned to the 13th August and on the latter date the 4th witness was examined and cross-examined after which the Registrar recorded "Case for the appellant closes." The proceedings were then again adjourned to the 16th August. On the 16th August the Registrar said this:-
"I have to rule that case for the applicant has not closed as my attention has been called to the fact that Nuru Jinadu 3rd AW. has not concluded his evidence. He was being cross-examined by Counsel for the Objectors when we adjourned on 18th July, 1963."
The applicant appeals on the following ground:-
"The Registrar is wrong in law in making an order to re-open the Claimant's case to enable Mr Kotun to further cross-examine the Claimant's last but one witness after the Claimant had closed his case on a previous date."
In my view this appeal, if it lies at all which I am very doubtful of, is completely misconceived. It is highly probable that the Registrar was right in his view that the cross-examination of the 3rd witness had not been completed. But even if he were wrong I know of no rule which would prevent him from recalling the witness for cross examination or otherwise. I It should be remembered that a Registrar investigating title is not a court but a tribunal. It is not bound by the strict rules of procedure and practice applicable to Courts of Law and so long as it acts judicially and does not offend against the principles of natural justice its actions cannot be questioned in a Court of Law.
The appeal is dismissed with costs assessed at £5-5s-0d.