Fair Hearing


Fair hearing is a trial conducted according to
all legal rules formulated to ensure that justice is done to the parties. It also entails doings in the course of trials, whether civil or criminal trial, all the things which will make an impartial observe, leave the court room to believe that the trial has been balanced and fair on both sides to the trial. An appellant’s right to fair hearing has been given a wider scope by the provisions of section 36 (6) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provides thus; Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to:
a) Be informed promptly in the language that he understands and in detail of the nature of the offence.
b) Be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence.
c) Defend himself in person or by legal practitioners of his own choice
d) Examine, in person or by his legal practitioners, the witnesses called by the prosecution before any court or tribunal and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf before the court or tribunal on the same conditions as those apply to the witnesses called by the prosecution, and
e) Have, without payment the assistant of an interpreter if he cannot understand the language used at the trial of the offence.
In the case of Alhaji Isiyaku Mohamm v. Kano Nature Authority (1968) I All NLR 424 at 426, Ademola CJN stated as follow;
“It has been suggested that a fair hearing does not mean a fair trial. We think a fair hearing must involve a fair trial, and a fair trial of a case consists of the whole hearing. The true test of a fair hearing, it was suggested by counsel, is the impression of a reasonably person who was present at the trial whether from is observation, justice has been due in the case…”
The Supreme Court in the case of Effion v. State 91995) NWLR (pt 373) 507.
It prescribed the essential elements of fair hearing as follows: easy access to court, right to be heard, impartiality of adjudicating process, principles of Nemo judex incausa suo and whether there is inordinate delay in delivery of judgment. The principles of fair hearing is also understood in terms of the twin pillars of natural justice, that audi alteram paterm and nemo judex in causa sua. Fair hearing lies in the procedure followed in a particular case and not in the correctness of the decision. Once a party alleges non-observance of the principle of fair hearing and the court establishes it, the proceedings will be vitiated notwithstanding that there was no miscarriage of justice. See Dinyadi v. INEC (No. 1) (2010)18 NWLR (pt 1224)


Nkechi Bright-Ewere