Before acquiring any property, beware of the doctrine of “Lis Pendens”.

Before acquiring any property, beware of the doctrine of "Lis Pendens".
Before acquiring any property, beware of the doctrine of “Lis Pendens”.
By S.T. Afolabi Esq.
_Meaning of the doctrine of “Lis pendens”_
In the recently decided case of FIDELIS OHAEGBU & 2 ORS. v. THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE CAPUCHIN FRIARS MINOR NIGERIA [2022] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1839) P. 506, Paras F-G, the Supreme Court of Nigeria per. UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI J.S.C. who read the leading judgement had this to say;
” _Lis pendens_ means ‘a pending legal action’, and the principle behind the doctrine is that the subject matter of a suit should not be transferred to a third party during the pendency of the suit. Lis pendens, simply put, is a pending lawsuit. It is the jurisdiction, power, or control which courts acquire over property in litigation, pending action until final determination. Equally, the doctrine of Lis pendens evolved in order to prevent parties in a pending suit from alienating the subject matter so as to prejudice the opposite party.
On the conditions for application of doctrine of Lis pendens, the conditions that must be shown for the doctrine of Lis pendens to apply are : –
(a.) That at the time of the sale of the property, the suit regarding the dispute about the said property was already pending;
(b) that the action was in respect of real property; it never applies to personal property;
(c) that the object of the action was to recover or assert title to a specific real property; that is to say, an action in a subject matter adverse to the owner in respect of some substantive right which is proprietary in nature; and
(d) that the other party had been served with the originating process in the pending action.
The four (4) conditions must co-exist before the doctrine of Lis pendens would apply. The absence of any of those conditions would render inapplicable the doctrine…”


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