⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
F. C. Udoh & Ors. v. Orthopaedic Hospitals Management Board & Anor. (1993) – SC
– Trade Dispute Union;
1. F. C.UDOH;
2. FELIX O. AYOGU;
3. R.U. EZE (For themselves and on behalf of the Non- Academic Staff Union of Educational & Associated Institutions)
1. Orthopaedic Hospitals Management Board;
2. Medical & Health Workers Union Of Nigeria;
(1993) NWLR (Pt.304)139;
(1993) 7 SCNJ 244;
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Karibi Whyte, J.S.C.
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
This is a motion to dismiss the Appeal lodged before the Supreme Court. The appeal was from the decision of the High Court all through to the Court of Appeal, now to the Supreme Court. As the appeal was lodged before the Supreme Court; before the appeal was heard, the Trade Disputes (Amendment) Decree No.47 was enacted. This Act removed the powers of the High Court to hear matters regards to trade. Hence, the respondent’s motion to dismiss the appeal.
1. Whether by virtue of section 1A of the Trade Disputes Act Cap. 432 as amended by the Trade Disputes (Amendment) Decree No.47 of 1992, the appeal before us has abated?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1. THE MOTION WAS RESOLVED IN FAVOUR OF THE APPELLANT, AND AGAINST THE RESPONDENTS WHO FILED THE MOTION.
i. I have come to the conclusion on the above reasons that section 2 of Decree No.47 of 1992 applies only to commencement of actions at first instance and the continuance of pending proceedings. The Decree does not concern and was not intended to affect final judgments in existence on the 1st January, 1992, and appeals against such judgments.
ii. Thus as at 1st January, 1992 no actions relating to trade disputes, whether intra, or inter union, can be commenced. The jurisdiction of the courts in respect thereof, is ousted. Again, actions pending in court as on that date will abate and shall be null and void. It seems to me fairly clear that the section is concerned with the exclusion of the jurisdiction of the court in respect of “commencement of actions” and the “continuance of pending actions” as on the 1st January, 1992. Thus, whilst no civil proceedings, whether intra or inter in respect of trade disputes can be entertained, such pending actions will abate and shall be null and void. I think the words of the section are fairly clear, plain and unambiguous and should be given their ordinary plain meaning. I am therefore obliged to give to the words their natural meaning except where to do so will result in absurdity.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
Section 1A of the Trade Disputes (Amendment) Decree No. 47 of 1992:
1A.(1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (3) of section 20 of this Act, no person shall commence an action, the subject matter of a trade dispute or any inter or intra union dispute in a court of law and accordingly any action which prior to the commencement of this section is pending in any court shall abate and be null and void.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979, any interim or interlocutory order, judgment or decision made by any court other than the National Industrial Court established under this Act in respect of any trade dispute, inter or intra union dispute prior to the commencement of this section shall cease to have effect.
(3) A person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of ten thousand naira or to imprisonment for a term of one year or both.
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
It is both elementary and also a fundamental principle for the interpretation of statutes that where the words of a statute are clear and not ambiguous, effect should be given to them. – Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Udoh v. Orthopaedic Hospitals (1993)
Although not part of the section, the marginal notes and any explanatory notes give a guide as to the interpretation of the section. – Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Udoh v. Orthopaedic Hospitals (1993)
It is a well settled principle of construction of statutes that where a section names specific things among many other possible alternatives, the intention is that those not named are not intended to be included. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. – Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Udoh v. Orthopaedic Hospitals (1993)
It is a well recognised principle of construction of statutes that a statute is not to be so construed as to impair an existing right or obligation, unless such construction is clear from the words of the section and such effect cannot be avoided without doing violence to the language of the enactment. Hence a statute should be construed to as not to have a greater retrospective operation than its language renders necessary. – Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Udoh v. Orthopaedic Hospitals (1993)
It is hardly disputable that the provision of a statute should not be so construed as to result in an absurdity. – Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Udoh v. Orthopaedic Hospitals (1993)