Legal Nuggets (83): Essential Qualities Of A Good Brief Of Argument.- By Adedotun Habeeb Adetunji, LL.M (M.IoD), FCAI

Where a non-lawyer does the work of a lawyer, does his case by himself in Court, the Court will treat him as a lawyer and would not be treated differently in the presentation of his case. The Court will not bend the law and the rules for him because he is not trained in law.

ISSUE: BRIEF OF ARGUMENT-Essential qualities of a good brief of argument

"The Appellant filed an amended brief of argument on 5/3/18 which was deemed on 24/1/18. The Appellant adopted the brief on 16/11/18. The Appellant conducted the appeal by himself as he did not brief a lawyer to prosecute the appeal for him. He complied the records by himself and prepared the brief of argument. This is a bold step. There are consequences for all human conducts. In spite of the fact that the Appellant is not a lawyer, he decided to do the work of a lawyer. This Court will treat him as a lawyer in this instance and so he will not betreated any different in the presentation of his case. There are rules of how briefs are filed and the component of a good brief. If the rules are not followed, this Court will not overlook it simply because he is not a lawyer. He chose to represent himself; he will therefore swim or sink with the consequences. Brief writing requires so much skill that even lawyers need to learn and acquire. For a non- lawyer it requires much more learning. A brief must be elegant, comprehensive, legible, readable in appearance and attractive in presentation. It must not be unnecessarily lengthy and repetitive. It is not a muddling of facts and law. See: Jawando & Anor. vs. Bakare (2006)4 FWLR (Pt. 345) 7445; Akinkunmi & Anor. vs. Sadiq (2001)2 NWLR (Pt.696)105. In Nwadigwu vs. IGP & Ors. (2015) LPELR-26027 (CA), this Court held per Iyizoba, JCA, at pages 13 -14 as follows:

" This Court and the Apex Court have repeatedly advised Counsel to be succinct and to the point in their briefs. Brief writing technique is such an important tool for any counsel who desires to practice law in the appellate Courts, that effort must be made by counsel to acquire the necessary technique. See the observation of Tobi, JCA, (as he then was) in Amadi vs. Essien (1994) 7 NWLR (Pt.354) 91 @ 112."

In Afrotec Technical Services (Nig.) Ltd. vs. MIA & Sons Ltd. & Anor. (2000) 12 SC (Pt. II) 1, the Supreme Court

"The purpose of filing a brief is to state with accuracy, brevity and precision whatever is essential to clear and adequate understanding of the questions which are required to be considered by the Court." I am going into all this because the brief filed by the Appellant has not respected the known rules of brief writing. I really do not know how to comment on the brief because it is really confusing. I cannot identify the issues for determination and appreciate the arguments raised therein. The grounds of appeal in the notice of appeal are also very confusing. Formulating grounds of appeal and writing brief of argument is a very serious business in the appellate Court and therefore should not be taken lightly. The Appellant in my considered opinion should have briefed a lawyer but that is that about that. I must however say that within the context of the limited knowledge of the Appellant he tried his best and did the job to the best of his ability. For a non-lawyer, he must be commended for attempting to delve into the skillful area of brief writing. I cannot take that away from him. I commend him for that bold step but the law is the law and rules are rules. This is the reality on ground and bending the rules for whatever reason will amount to injustice." Per EBIOWEI, JCA.(Pp.8-10,Paras.A-F).

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