The Reasonable Man: The Courts Most Trusted Consultant By Munir Ishaq (Morality)

0

Two heads they say are better than one, through the course of our daily activities, individuals as well as institutions tend to rely on the opinions and advice of other persons to ensure the success of their aims and aspirations, the Court of law is no exception, it always seek for the opinion of one particular person, whose opinion once sought for is not usually discarded by the Courts.
Morality is about to tell you who is this person, whose opinion becomes the law, and may even invoke liability and inflict penalty.
He is the reasonable man, whose origin is traced to the man on the Clapham Omnibus, a concept legally used in 1903 by Sir Richard Collins Mr in the case of McQuirgoe V Western Morning News who also attributed it to Lord Bowen in 1871, Clapham is a town in south London while Omnibus is an archaic form for calling Bus, so the English courts used the term “the man on the Clapham Omnibus” as a yardstick in ascertaining whether a litigant has acted as a reasonable man would.
In our own legal system, Kayode Eso JSC explained the Nigerian equivalent of the reasonable man in Adigun v. Attorney General of Oyo State (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt. 53) p. 678 at p. 720, paras. F – G. where his Lordship said: “A reasonable person here may be a pleasant housewife shopping for meal in Sandgrouse…, he may be the ordinary worker in the Kano Native city living on his “Tuwo”…or he is the plain woman in Okrika dress…”
The Reasonable man test is usually adopted by the courts in plethora of instances, like in cases of civil negligence, defences to criminal liability, duty of care by the Agent in agency relationships etcetera. This the court usually do by adopting an objective test in handling such cases, however this has received heavy criticisms reasons being largely for the subjective nature of the offence committed and the much hackneyed question on how do judges determine WHO IS A REASONABLE MAN in the specific circumstances of each case.
Among the many criticisms labelled against the applicability of the Reasonable Man Test as adopted by the Courts, the following are inclusive; What are the characteristics of the reasonable Man? In cases of defences to criminal liability, how does the court decide the instance of a person who revolted as a result of prior victimization, is prior victimization also a characteristic of the reasonable man? Should women who acted in self defense being victims of domestic or sexual violence be judged on the basis of what a reasonable MAN would do in such circumstances..etcetera.
The reasonable person in the presumption of the courts is always right in his judgments, his acts, emotions, thinking, and feelings, the reasonable person does not err, his opinions are upheld over that of others, he has the final say in the eventuality of any conflicting claims, when you give a ram to the deity, you should surely let go of the rope.
The services of the reasonable man shall always be sought for by the courts, howbeit in doing this the Courts should also bear in mind that this hypothetical being as any other being can also err, his objective approach may not necessarily fit into the subjective case at hand, a hybrid approach of adopting objectivity and subjectivity may be better off, even while applying the objective approach, the court should be guided by the majoritarian norm. The unlimited powers granted to the reasonable man as wielded by judges ought to be controlled, for power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Munir Ishaq (Morality) is a 300 level law student of Bayero University Kano. He can be reached via +2348147841027 or Sanizakir0@gmail.com