• July 26, 2023

Default Judgement: Radio Democracy Calls for Justice

Default Judgement:  Radio Democracy Calls for Justice
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In recent times, it has been so normal for many people to celebrate a default judgement, which is occasioned by failure to submit defence or other technical issues as prescribed by court rules.

This, in recent times, has been manifested in the case of the Inspector General of Police, as a Plaintiff against Radio Democracy, FM 98.1 and Alex Lawrence Koroma. In this case, the judge rendered a default judgment due to none compliance to submit defence as defendants in the matter, pursuant to the High Court Rules 2007, which requires same. There are different types of Judicial Judgments in law, one of it is the Default Judgement that has been given against the Defendants. This is enforceable in law also.

In defamation, as for the Inspector General of Police, he is a public figure paid from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and therefore he is within a public scrutiny that anyone can scrutinize towards professionalism, transparency and accountability as opposed to being the Head of the police.

However, the merit of the matter was not investigated to ascertain the veracity of the truth, as opposed to the defamation. Examining the publication of the defendants, one will agree that there is nothing slanderous in the publication, especially when the journalist did not attribute false statement on the Inspector General of Police. And for there to be Defamation, there has to be false statement attributed to the plaintiff that is false and malicious. In the case of the Inspector General, there is a missing element of false statement attributed to him.

The case of this Default Judgement can be overturned if the Defendants file an application for Stay of Execution, attached with a defence that can show that the case is a case of merit, and submit reasons as to why the defence was filed late. In this situation, the Judge can shift from his position and open the trial to respect the principles of Audi alteram partem (hear the other side).

This same judgement cannot be said to be reached because of lack of sufficient evidence, in the spirit of the law in proceeding, the sufficient or lack of sufficient evidence can be assessed by the court when once evidence is submitted to claims. In this case there was no evidence adduced by the defendants. The none compliance to submit evidence by the defendants might be hinged on the several attempts to have the case out of court settlement, it is obvious that the Director of the Board (Dr Julius Spencer) did an apology via Radio Democracy 98.1 to the Inspector General of Sierra Leone Police on behalf of the defendants, this was sufficient enough for the Plaintiff to have discontinued his case to respect the Memorandum of Understanding between the Sierra Leone Police and The Sierra Leone Association of Journalist.

Above all, the general populace should aware that the veracity of the facts of the case was not examined to assess the merit of the case and publication. Such a default judgement cannot in anyway error the professionalism of the defendants unless the facts are examined as to the truth of the publication.

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