My attention was called to an authority a few days ago about the topic. I instantly recalled making an argument for the position taken by the Court in an earlier post which can be found here. The position of the law regarding front-loading documents alongside pleadings has taken a twist in favour of doing substantial justice. 

The fact that a party has omitted to front-load a document with his pleadings or originating process should not be a ground to reject the document on the basis of admissibility. The logic here is, if admissibility of  documents in trial is governed by the Evidence Act, Rules of Courts which provide for front-loading of documents which is subservient to the Evidence Act, ought not apply to cause rejection of tendering documents in trial.
The Court of Appeal in DUNALIN INV. LTD V BGL PLC(2016)18 NWLR (PART 1544), 262 at 340 while considering the effect of a wrongfully rejected document by a trial court maintained as follows:

In my view, the lower court owed itself a duty to look closely at the evidence. the documents were pleaded, and with the issue of illegality hanging in the air, the fact that they were not frontloaded becomes something inconsequential; there is no law that says a document, which is not frontloaded, is inadmissible. It is all about weight and nothing  but weight; there is a difference between admissibility of a document and the weight to be ascribed to the document”

The Court went ahead on pages 341 – 343 as follows

While the position of the law that parties are under obligation to comply and obey the rules of court remains unassailable, I must however state here that it is the Evidence Act and not the rules of Court that governs admissibility of evidence. Apparently, the learned judge failed to appreciate this settled position of the law…
It is evident from the above reproduced portion of the ruling of the lower court that the document sought to be tendered by the claimant’s counsel was rejected by the trial judge on the basis that same was not frontloaded notwithstanding the court’s finding that same was rightly pleaded by the claimant. in the light of the above stated position of the law, the trial court erred when it rejected the document. A rejection of a potentially vital document for failure to frontload same, as in the instant case, would no doubt occasion a miscarriage of justice… The essence of frontloading copies of documents to be relied upon by a party at trial is mainly to expedite trial by giving the other party opportunity to see the evidence the former seeks to rely upon in proof of his case against the latter. Frontloading system is basically an innovation under the various rules of courts; it ranks inferior to the Evidence Act which was enacted by the National Assembly.

This position finds favour with earlier decisions in Chime V. Egwuonwu(2008) 2 LRECN 575, 616; Chime v. Ezea(2008) 2 LRECN 675, 744-745 ; Ogboru V. Uduaghan (2011) All FWLR (pt. 577) 650 ; Accord Party V. Saraki(2010) ALL FWLR (pt. 544) 65 at 96 which were all cited in support of my earlier proposition in my post. The court equally added a few authorities on this same point which include; INEC v. Iniama (2008) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1088) 182; Ogunsakin v. Ajidara (2008) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1082) 1.

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