Why Nigerian Judges/Courts Cannot Translate Documents

Why Nigerian Judges/Courts Cannot Translate Documents

Why Nigerian Judges/Courts Cannot Translate Documents.  Daily Law Tips (Tip 491) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

“It is trite law that the language of the Courts is English. It is the duty of Counsel who desires the Court to make use of a document that is not in the language of the Court, to ensure its translation, I hold.”

Per ADEFOPE-OKOJIE ,J.C.A

“In Ojengbede vs. Esan (2001) 18 NWLR Part 746 page 271 at 790 paragraphs A – D, Iguh, J.S.C. , opined that: If documents written in any language other than English are to be tendered properly or used in evidence, they must be only translated into English language and to be tendered and properly used in evidence, they must be only translated into English either by a competent witness called by the party to the proceedings who needs them to prove his case or by the official interpreter of the Court. A Court cannot on its own engage in the translation in interpretation of a document written in a language other than English once it is precluded from performing the role of a witness and the arbiter at the same time in the same proceeding.

In the instant case, the trial Judge is Yoruba and must have made use of his private and personal knowledge of the Yoruba language to translate the minutes in which the issue of partition was discussed by the Respondents’ family. This however, he was not entitled in law to engage in. The said minutes was not written in the language of the Court and there being no translation of it into English in the course of the proceedings, the trial Court was in error to have taken notice of it in its judgment .”

Per ORJI-ABADUA ,J.C.A ( Pp. 26-27, paras. E-G )

References;

The decision of the Court of Appeal, in the respective cases, below:

1. HARUNA v. BANK OF AGRICULTURE LTD & ORS (2016) LPELR-40467(CA)

2. BAKO & ORS v. ABUBAKAR (2014) LPELR-23975(CA)

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Feel free to reach the author, ask questions or make inquiries on this topic or any other legal issues via onyekachi.umah@gmail.com or +2348037665878.

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