Arbitration & ADR, Insights

Imperatives for Receipt of the Norwich Pharmacal Order into the Nigerian Legal System

Most times a Claimant knows his right(s) has been infringed upon or a wrong has happened against him but cannot claim damages against the wrongdoer due to lack of evidence to prove the wrongdoing or lack of knowledge of the identity of the wrongdoer. In a bid to access this information, the Claimant in most cases resort to some investigative measures (like employing the services of an independent investigator) which is cost demanding and may end up in futility.

To this end, the Norwich Pharmacal Order (NPO) came to the rescue. A NPO is an equitable order of the court available in England and Wales which compels a third party who has become “mixed up” in a wrongdoing to disclose evidence of the wrongdoing or the identity of a wrongdoer that would otherwise remain confidential. This is to enable the victim seek remedy before a competent court because where there is a wrong, there ought to be a remedy (Ubi jus ibi remedium).

The NPO is functionally not only confined to identifying wrongdoers in the tortious acts, but also includes the duty to provide “full information” to ascertain the existence of a cause of action or the elements thereof or to complete an investigation into such matters . NPO is commonly applied against “Banks” and “Internet services providers” in order to access information or documents in proving fraud or defamation against a victim.

This article seeks to interrogate the applicability or otherwise of the NPO in Nigeria in light of the Freedom of Information Act and the discovery practices in Nigeria. The article also seeks to juxtapose the NPO with similar equitable orders (like Mareva order, anton piller, etc.) operational in Nigeria…



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