My right to fair hearing (Introduction)

  • Introduction

The right to fair hearing is also known as the principle of natural justice encapsulated in the two traditional latin maxims: audi alterem patem and nemo judex in causa sua. The right to fair hearing entails the following:

Easy access to the court/Tribunal

  1. The right to be heard;
  2. The impartiality of the adjudicating body; and
  • Speedy trial

Where any of these is lacking, there is absence of fair hearing[1].

Audi alterem patem simply means that the accused be given opportunity to be heard[2] while Nemo judex in causa sua principle demands that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. The question here is not whether the judge was biased in fact. Rather, it is whether a detached onlooker looking at what the court or judge has done will have the impression that the judge was biased.[3]

The adjudicator must not be interested in any of the parties or the subject matter by virtue of his relationship with any of them or the outcome of the proceedings[4]. If the person deciding your fate is related or appointed by your accusers, there may be element of bias whether in court or at any administrative panel.

[1] See Effiom Vs. The State (1995) 1 NWLR (pt. 373) 507.

[2] See S.287 CPA. See Otapo Vs. Sunmonu (1987) 5 SCNJ 57.

[3] Ajibaiye Vs. Ajibaiye (2007) All FWLR (pt. 359) 1321.

[4] See Garba Vs. Uni-Maid (1986) 1 NSCC 245; Yabugbe Vs. COP (1992) 4 NWLR (pt. 234) 152