A fair hearing is at the foundation of justice because whoever the Judge is, he would listen to both sides of the argument and weigh the evidence presented before him to come to a fair conclusion.
The principle of fair hearing is based on the Latin maxim, Audi alteram partem, which means “Listen To The Other Side”.
If the other side of a dispute is shut out from giving their own testimony and narrating his side of events, then there is a grave danger of injustice looming. Where would be the fairness in deciding a case from evidence given by one side alone, anyone will only give evidence that is in their favour.
Judging Matters, a reality TV courtroom series follows the proceedings of a small claims court. The court is presided over by Rtd. Justice Olusola Williams, who is assisted by media personality and lawyer, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, acting as Counsel. Varying disputes are presented to the court and both sides of the disputes are heard.
The procedure in a small claims court allows for self-representation by the parties thereby eliminating the added cost of hiring a lawyer. Parties concerned are invited and encouraged to narrate their stories themselves while Justice Williams considers both sides of the case and gives judgement.
Ebuka in his role as Counsel, helps the court get the full story from the parties by asking questions to reveal all the facts. This is usually necessary because parties might be hesitant to provide important information required to judge the case fairly.
The reluctance of parties involved to be forthcoming with the truth adds to the entertainment quality of an already enlightening show. The process the court must go through to get the truth always leaves the audience laughing at the party’s failed attempt at avoidance.
Cases heard in this court are civil cases and are therefore judged on the preponderance of evidence. This means that the judge is likely to sway in the direction of who is able to prove their side with stronger argument and better evidence and therefore it is important that both parties are heard.
The small claims court comes as a reprieve to everyday Nigerians to obtain justice more easily. Justice Williams and Ebuka, more than just listen to arguments and dispense judgement, also enlighten the parties and audience on their civil rights and obligations.
The issues presented in each episode are real-life issues that everyday Nigerians face. From breach of contract or reneging on an agreement, to debt recovery and tenancy matters.
Judging Matters airs Mondays at 6:00 PM on Africa Magic Showcase CH 151. The repeat episode airs on the same channel on Wednesdays at 5:00 PM.