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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Any redress for those maliciously prosecuted?

By Runsewe Solomon


Malicious prosecution is taking a person to court on false charges. Malicious prosecution is distinct from false arrest or false imprisonment. In most cases, a person is falsely charged with a crime, but malicious prosecution may also apply to civil complaints such as lawsuits that are without merit. Taking false legal action through the courts to harass, embarrass or cost someone money is also sometimes known as engaging in vexatious litigation.

Segun Oni, Esq

Malicious prosecution could be defined as a tort arising from unsuccessful criminal or civil proceedings instituted against another party with malice and without probable or reasonable cause.

The tort of malicious prosecution is committed where the defendant maliciously and without probable cause, initiates against the plaintiff a criminal prosecution which terminates in the plaintiff’s favour and which results in damage to the plaintiff’s reputation.

The purpose is to protect a person who has been prosecuted without reasonable and probable cause which prosecution ends in favour of the accused, this is a trespass to person. It is a use of legal process, a vexatious process. Once it ends in the favour of the plaintiff, may sue in tort for damages.

Malicious prosecution is an outright abuse of process, it is usually a damage to the character, person, liberty, property or finance. In the circumstance, the plaintiff would have illegitimately and illegally used the coercive powers of the state to cause harm to another, the defendant and the coercive powers of the state are therefore, abused.

The law seeks to maintain balance between two opposing interests and philosophies. These are:

Need to protect persons from suffering harassment by malicious, wrongful and unjustifiable prosecution.

The public policy and need to encourage people to assist in the law enforcement process through the release of information to the law enforcement agencies (police, etc) and help brings breakers of law to justice, in order to protect the society.

There are four elements a plaintiff must prove to succeed in his claim, this was restated by the Supreme Court in the case of Balogun v. Amubikanhu.

The onus lies on the plaintiff to prove each of the elements stated below:

That the defendant instituted or initiated the prosecution against him.

That the prosecution terminated in the plaintiff’s favour.

That the defendant had no reasonable and probable cause for prosecution; and That the defendant acted maliciously.

The only redress available is that of equitable relief,

It is different from a legal remedy where the accused could be sentenced.

A legal remedy applied by the court when remedies such as monetary remedies are considered insufficient to rectify the situation.

Orders for equitable relief either requires a person to perform or refrain from performing a specific act.


Olanrewaju Olamide Esq

The purpose of litigation is for the society to have an amicable way of settling disputes and dealing with criminals. However, if there isn’t a limit to the extent of litigation to be undertaken by members of the society, they are bound to abuse this process. It is in order to ensure that the process of litigation is not abused that the law provides for the tort of malicious prosecution.

The tort of malicious prosecution is an action for damages brought by one against whom a civil suit or criminal proceedings has been unsuccessfully commenced without probable cause and for aims other than bringing the alleged offender to justice. It is not only limited to criminal proceedings but may also be brought in response to baseless and malicious litigation and prosecution, whether criminal or civil. A criminal defendant in a baseless or malicious case may later file a claim in civil court against the parties who took an active role in initiating or instigating the original case.

A suit for malicious prosecution can be regarded as a tort action. The claimant seeks compensation for costs incurred by him in having to defend himself against the baseless and malicious prosecution instituted or instigated by hew defendant.

The public policy behind the institution of malicious prosecution is one that seeks to discourage the institution of baseless and vexatious litigation. This public policy has to compete with the one that encourages law enforcement officers, judicial officers and citizens to aid in the administration of justice.

It should be noted that an action for malicious prosecution is distinct from an action for false arrest or false imprisonment. If a person is arrested by a police officer without following the due process, then an action for false arrest would arise.

On the other hand, if a person is unlawfully confined against his/her will, then an action for false imprisonment could arise. An action for malicious prosecution is thus appropriate only when the judicial system has been abused.

In the case of Alhaji Isa Tarihu Laigoro vs. Alhaji Jibril Garba (Court of Appeal Jos Judicial Division) the court held that before an action for malicious prosecution can be successful, the following ingredients have to be proved:

That the prosecution was maliciously instituted.

That the defendant acted without reasonable and probable cause.

The plaintiff must prove that the action was started at the instance of the defendant who set the law in motions against him, leading to criminal charges.

That he was prosecuted and the criminal prosecution terminated in his favour.

If you’ve been wrongfully prosecuted, you might be able to file a malicious prosecution lawsuit for damages against the person who initiated the charges or filed the suit against you. Learn about what malicious prosecution is and what is required.

Four elements are required to establish a claim for malicious prosecution:

Initiating or continuing of a criminal legal proceeding: The person whom you are suing (the defendant) must have brought criminal charges against you. For example, someone swore out a warrant for your arrest.

Lack of grounds: The defendant did not have reasonable grounds or probable cause for accusing you of a crime against you. For example, the defendant knew you weren’t the person who assaulted him or her, or the defendant knew you didn’t owe him or her money but continues the case.

Bad motive: The defendant acted with malice in bringing charges against you.

Favorable termination: You must receive an outcome or judgment in your favor. A jury returned a not guilty verdict in a criminal case, the charges against you were dropped due to the lack of evidence, or the judge dismissed the case on its merits.

If you think you have a case, contact a civil rights attorney to evaluate your case.

In a malicious prosecution lawsuit, you can recover damages you suffered because of the criminal charges. You can get the money you lost as a result of spending time in jail. You can receive compensation for lost wages and the cost of defending the charges, and you may recover for damage to your reputation or for the emotional stress you suffered.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officers enjoy qualified immunity from suits for malicious prosecution. If you’re filing a malicious prosecution suit against a prosecutor or law enforcement officer, you must show he or she acted outside the scope of his or her employment and engaged in willful and unreasonable conduct.

A suit for malicious prosecution is not the same as a suit for false arrest or a suit for false imprisonment. The basis for a false arrest suit is an arrest without the proper authority to make the arrest. The basis for a false imprisonment suit is confining someone against his or her will. To prove a malicious prosecution suit, you must show someone used the court system by initiating criminal charges.

Adetoro Awojobi Esq

It is actionable in malicious prosecution which is a civil case.


(1989) LPELR-725(SC)

TORT – MALICIOUS PROSECUTION – Conditions that must be established in order for a plaintiff to succeed in an action for malicious prosecution

“In an action for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must plead and show by evidence that he was prosecuted by the defendant. In this regard, it must be shown clearly that the defendant set in motion against the plaintiff, the law leading to a criminal charge.

Secondly, as a result of the prosecution aforementioned the plaintiff was discharged and acquitted, in short that the prosecution was determined in the plaintiff’s favour.

Thirdly, the plaintiff must plead and satisfy the court by evidence that the prosecution by the defendant was completely without reasonable and probable cause.

Finally that the prosecution was as a result of malice by the defendant against the plaintiff. All the four elements above must be present for successful action for malicious prosecution, and the onus is always on the plaintiff to prove each and everyone of them.” Per SALIHU MODIBBO ALFA BELGORE, JSC (Pp 9 – 9 Paras C – F).


Kayode Ogboye, Esq

Criminal and civil cases that lack sufficient evidence usually aren’t pursued. However, occasionally criminal charges or civil lawsuits are maliciously filed in order to intimidate, harass, defame, or otherwise injure the other party. Such actions are referred to as malicious prosecution, whether it’s an unscrupulous prosecutor filing false charges against a political rival or a corporation suing a small business in order to put the competition out of business.

Since prosecutors have considerable discretion over which cases are pursued and private citizens are free to file lawsuits, this tort provides an essential check on potential abuses. of emotional distress and abuse of process.

Malicious Prosecution: The Basics

Malicious prosecution occurs when one party has knowingly and with malicious intent initiated baseless litigation against another party. This includes both criminal charges and civil claims, for which the cause of action is essentially the same.

The main difference between claims based on criminal and civil actions has to do with evidence. For example, mental suffering is usually considered an element of general damages in a claim based on malicious criminal prosecution, with no special proof required. But for claims based on civil actions, the plaintiff must be able to prove quantifiable damages.

Most states allow recovery for claims based on civil suits as long as the plaintiff (the defendant in the original case) is able to prove malicious intent and lack of probable cause. But some states require some direct interference with, or injury to, the plaintiff apart from the mere hassle of answering a civil complaint. For example, defamation resulting from a malicious lawsuit, such as lost business from a damaged reputation, typically would be considered a compensable injury.

Generally, any malicious criminal proceeding that lacks probable cause — regardless of whether the claimant was tried or even indicted — may give rise to a malicious prosecution claim. Even the malicious issuance of a search warrant without probable cause may trigger such a claim.

Bewaji Idowu Isaac Esq

Malicious prosecution is the malicious institution of unsuccessful criminal or bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings against another without reasonable or probable cause. This tort balances competing principles, namely freedom that every person should have in bringing criminals to justice and the need for restraining false accusations against innocent persons.

Malicious prosecution is an abuse of the process of the court by wrongfully setting the law in motion on a criminal charge. The foundation lies in the triangular abuse of the court process of the court by wrongfully setting the law in motion and it is designed to encourage the perversion of the machinery of justice for a proper cause the tort of malicious position provides redress for those who are prosecuted without cause and with malice.

In order to succeed the plaintiff must prove that there was a prosecution without reasonable and just cause, initiated by malice and the case was resolved in the plaintiff’s favor. It is necessary to prove that damage was suffered as a result of the prosecution.

In an action of malicious prosecution the plaintiff must prove:

1) That he was prosecuted by the defendant.

2) That the proceeding complained was terminated in favour of the present plaintiff

3) That the prosecution was instituted against without any just or reasonable cause.

4) That the prosecution was instituted with a malicious intention, that is, not with the mere intention of getting the law into effect, but with an intention, which was wrongful in fact.

5) That he suffered damage to his reputation or to the safety of person, or to security of his property.

Oladele Olorunmeganmi, Esq

Malicious prosecution is taking a person to court on false charges. Malicious prosecution is distinct from false arrest or false imprisonment. In most cases, a person is falsely charged with a crime, but malicious prosecution may also apply to civil complaints such as lawsuits that are without merit. Taking false legal action through the courts to harass, embarrass or cost someone money is also sometimes known as engaging in vexatious litigation.

Being falsely accused of a crime or any misdeed in the public arena of the courts can have a devastating effect on your life, even if you are ultimately found not guilty. Your reputation, career and relationships can be harmed irreparably. The costs to defend yourself can be terribly destructive financially.

The response to this kind of legal harassment is known as pursuing a malicious prosecution claim. Such a claim seeks compensation for the legal costs (attorney’s fees and court costs) of defending yourself against the original charge and for such injuries as:

A malicious prosecution claim seeks punitive damages, which may be awarded to punish the responsible party and serve as a warning to those who would act in a similar fashion.

A malicious prosecution complaint must be based on a proceeding that was conducted against you but ultimately terminated in your favor. You must be able to demonstrate that there was a lack of probable cause for initiating the proceeding, that the defendant was active in the start or progress of charges against you, and that actual malice was involved in bringing the case forward. Probable cause means that the arresting officer and/or prosecutor had knowledge of a crime being committed or reasonably trustworthy information leading to this belief.


Malicious prosecution can have a devastating effect on someone’s life. Being falsely charged with a crime is difficult enough, but when this is the result of deliberate wrongdoing it can be even harder to deal with. We place great trust in the law to be fair and just: when the police or other prosecuting authorities abuse their power it can cause real damage.

Malicious prosecution is different from simply being wrongly accused of a crime: there must be evidence of deliberate malice on the part of the police or other prosecuting authority. Our expert lawyers could help you claim compensation for malicious prosecution if you have been the victim of:

Evidence being fabricated against you

False accusations (i.e. that you assaulted a police officer when in fact they assaulted you)

Insubstantial evidence  being  used without full investigation.

In the above instances compensation could be awarded to you for the damage to your reputation and the legal costs incurred in defending yourself against the malicious prosecution.

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