Nigeria: Understanding Consent Judgment

Last Updated: 24 June 2019
Article by Oluwole Dawodu


Generally, the court's judgment is the fruit of every litigation, and the outcome of every legal dispute that is referred for resolution by the Court. In Ogboru v. Uduaghan2 the Supreme Court defined judgment as "the official and authentic decision of a court of law upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit, which were litigated and submitted for the court's determination." A judgment of a court is usually the last stage of a judicial process after the legal right, claim or interest has been converted into a judgment or order which remains to be enforced.


A consent judgment can be defined as a decision, where the provisions and terms are settled and agreed to by parties to the action, and due effect is given thereto by the court. Given that the Nigerian judicial system allows and encourages parties to resolve disputes between them amicably, the terms agreed upon by parties in settlement discussions are usually set down in writing as terms of settlement. These terms of settlement are filed in Court and upon the application of the parties, become the judgment of the court in that case. It is when the terms of settlement are filed in court and made the judgment of the court that it crystalizes into a consent judgment.3

Indeed, in Vulcan Gases Ltd. v. Okunlola4 the Court held that a consent judgment presupposes out of court settlement reached by the parties, and that the terms of the said settlement or agreement are furnished to the court and forms the basis of the court's judgment in the suit. Such judgment is intended to put an end to further litigation between parties just as much as if the judgment was the result of a decision of the court after the matter had been fought to the end. Similarly, in D.T.T. Ent. (Nig.) Co. Ltd. v. Busari5 the Supreme Court held that consent judgments are not like the regular judgments of the courts entered after a trial is conducted by the court either summarily or upon a full trial. It is not dependent upon exchange of pleadings or calling of evidence. In fact there is no stage in the proceedings where the law requires a consent judgment to be entered as the same can be entered at any stage in the proceedings because it is simply based on an agreement between the parties to the litigation which agreement they consider binding on them and those who claim through them. In view of the fact that consent judgment creates new rights between the parties in substitution for and in consideration of the abandonment of the extant claim(s), it does not matter whether at the stage in which it was entered, the defendant had filed a defence to the claim(s) of the claimant or the claimant had filed a defence to a counter-claim or that evidence had been called or issues resolved. What matters is the agreement of the parties. A judgment obtained on admission by a defendant is not a consent judgment.6

To have a valid consent judgment the parties must be ad idem as far as the agreement is concerned; their agreement must be free, voluntary and unambiguous. Furthermore, the terms of settlement must be filed in court.7 It should be noted that Counsel can also enter into consent judgment on behalf of litigants. In Afegbai v. A.G., Edo State8 the Supreme Court held that where a person has given his Counsel a general authority without limitation to act on his behalf and to represent him in an action, the fact that the terms of agreement were negotiated and judgment entered by Counsel on behalf of such client and not by the client will not affect the validity of the judgment. The consent judgment so entered, will be valid and enforceable. Finally, it should be noted that consent judgment is not applicable to criminal proceedings and is quite different from plea bargaining. In Nwude v. F.R.N.9 the Court held that in criminal cases, the accused has a right to plead "guilty" or "not guilty". When the accused pleads guilty it will not be taken as a consent judgment simpliciter. It only means that the accused, after due consideration and consultation with his legal team, has decided to admit his/her culpability/guilt. Pleading guilty to a criminal charge reduces the time frame for the trial as there is no longer any need to call witnesses to prove the charge against the accused. In other words, consent judgment is not applicable in criminal cases.

A consent judgment may be the outcome of a civil matter where the defendant has no defence to the claims of the claimant. If at that time, a defendant has no defence and consents to judgment, it binds all the parties.


Generally, consent judgment being a final judgment, cannot be set aside by the court, which gave the judgment and is appealable only with leave of court.10 In Samba Petroleum Co. Ltd. v. F.C.M.B.11 the Court held that by virtue of Section 241(2)(c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, parties cannot appeal without leave of court from a decision of the High Court made with the consent of parties. A consent judgment has higher efficacy and binding effect than an ordinary judgment and is therefore more difficult to dislodge. The party seeking to rescind the terms mutually agreed upon has an arduous task and heavier duty to prove fraud and other vitiating elements.12 In Lamurde v. Adamawa State J. S. C.13 the Court stated the circumstances for setting aside a consent judgment and they are as follows:

a. Where the consent judgment was obtained by fraud,

b. Where it was obtained by misrepresentation or non-disclosure of a material fact for which there was an obligation to disclose,

c. Where it was obtained under duress,

d. Where it was concluded under a mutual mistake of fact,

e. Where the consent judgment was obtained without proper authority.

An aggrieved litigant has two major ways of challenging a consent judgment which he claims was obtained by fraud or mistakenly entered by the judge on the basis of fraudulent misrepresentation. The aggrieved litigant can either appeal against the judgment; or file a fresh action seeking an order of the court to vacate its judgment.14


Consent judgment is as effective in law as any other judgment or order arrived at after full trial. Where the parties enter into an agreement or written terms of settlement, one cannot read into the agreement or settlement terms on which the parties have not agreed. An exception to the general rule that consent judgments cannot be set aside by the Court which gave the judgment is when the consent judgment is tainted with vitiating elements (such as fraud, duress, undue influence, mistake etc.) of a contract.

A consent judgment is a final decision and can, in an appropriate case, sustain a plea of res judicata.15 Consent judgment remains binding until set aside by a fresh action or an appellate court, if it can be established to have been obtained by fraud, misrepresentation, duress or mutual mistake of parties.


Matthias Dawodu, Senior Associate, S. P. A. Ajibade & Co., Lagos Office, Nigeria.

2 [2012] 11NWLR (Pt. 1311) pg. 357.

3 Aerobell (Nig.) Ltd. v. N. D. I. C. [2017] 5 NWLR (Pt. 1558) p. 203.

4 [1993] 2 NWLR (Pt. 274) p. 142.

5 [2011] 8 NWLR (Pt. 1249) p. 387.

6 Lamurde v. Adamawa J. S. C. [1999] 12 NWLR (Pt.629) p.. 86.

7 Woluchem v. Wokoma [1974] 3 SC 153.

8 [2001] 14 NWLR (Pt. 733) p. 425.

9 [2016] 5 NWLR (Pt. 1506) p. 471.

10 S. P. M. Ltd. v. Adetunji [2009] 13 NWLR (Pt. 1159) p. 647.

11 [2014] 3 NWLR (Pt. 1394) p. 346.

12 Dana Impex Ltd. v. Aderotoye [2006] 3 NWLR (Pt. 966) p. 78.

13 Supra [n. 6] p. 2

14 Bessoy Ltd. v. Honey Legion (Nig.) Ltd. [2010] 4 NWLR (Pt. 1184) p. 300.

15 Res judicata is also known as claim preclusion. It is the Latin term for "a matter [already] judged." See Honda Place Ltd. v. Globe Motor Holdings Nig. Ltd. [2005] FWLR (Pt. 283) p. 1.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions