These are people who may sue but may not be successfully sued because they either have incapacity, legal immunity or they enjoy some other legal protection.
They include but are not limited to:
- Legal practitioners
- Foreign government and rulers
- Trade unions
- Persons of unsound mind
- Presidents and Governors
Below are brief descriptions on how each varies
- Diplomats: in a matter of convention and law, diplomats or any person, delegate or mission enjoying a diplomatic status would not be liable to prosecution in the court of the country of whoever hosts them.
- Judges: judges, magistrates and other judicial officers serving in like capacities have full immunity for acts done in their judicial capacity. Meaning where a suit is brought against a judge for any act done in his judicial capacity, it will be struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action
- Witnesses: a witness cannot be liable for defamation or slander in a case where by he/she was brought forward to testify as a witness. This was made to encourage people to come forward to testify on what they saw,heard or perceived an exception to this is a witness being convicted for perjury(willfully telling a lie is making a misrepresentation)and is usually in criminal law.
- Legal practitioners: legal practitioners have immunity in respect to all matter relating to the case they are handling, this protects lawyers from law suits for libel, slander etc. but if an action of a lawyer amounts to a crime like fraud against their client the lawyer may be liable for his actions, he can also be liable for gross negligence in his professional conduct.
- Foreign government and rulers: subject to international law, convention and international agreements to which Nigeria is a party and in some instances statutory exemptions, foreign governments, ruler or sovereign are as a general rule, immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of another country.
- Trade unions: trade unions are responsible for collective bargaining for remuneration and improvement of the working conditions and welfare of members . They enjoy special protection as they are not liable for torts commuted bu the union, members of the union or officials. However there are other remedies available to an employer like arbitration. There apart a trade union can sue and be sued in their registered name by other members of the public in other areas of law.
- Aliens: foreigners also known as aliens are classified into two categories
- Enemy aliens: this is a person who owes allegiance to a country with which Nigeria is at war or any foreigner or citizen who is voluntarily resident in an enemy country or carrying on business. It’s a general rule under common law that an enemy alien of a Nigerian collaborating with them cannot bring a legal action nor appeal against a court decision in Nigeria. Also an enemy alien resident in another country cannot sue in Nigerian courts. But If that enemy alien is resident in Nigeria he may be permitted to sue.
- Friendly aliens: it is a general rule in common law that all other foreigners are known as friendly aliens and they have no disability or immunity there for they can sue and be sued.
- Minors: a minor is a person that is not an adult or under the age of 18 years which is the age a person attains adulthood. Therefore a minor is a child, and under common law a child is under a general incapacity to exercise all the rights of an adult or perform civic duties, same way a child lack legal capacity to give valid consent and carry out any legally effective act. So generally a minor can only sue for a tort through his next friend that’s his parents or guardian and also be sued. Minority is not a defense in tort but where the presence of mental element is needed to establish a tort it can be a defense. In criminal law a minor is presumed incapable of crime but if it can be proved that a child between 11-14 years knew what he did was wrong it can be rebutted and they maybe responsible for their conduct.
- Persons of unsound mind: a person of unsound mind is regarded as a mental ill person and may not be liable for his wrongs in the law of tort. In criminal law mentally ill persons have greater exemptions from liability. However this does not apply equally to civil injuries, this is due to the fact that the aim of the tort law is to compensate an injured person and not to punish the wrongdoer so for this reason a person of unsound mind can be liable for his tort except
- His state of mind prevents him from having the necessary intent where a mental element of guilty mind is a necessary ingredient of the tort for example in a case of deceit, if he is incapable of forming the relevant malice which is an essential element he will not be liable.
- Where the wrong is an involuntary act on his part the mentally ill person would not be liable
- Presidents and Governors: no proceeding in which relief is sought against the president, Vice President, governor or deputy governor in his personal capacity shall be instituted against him not continued in any court during his term of office. He may be sued in official capacity and sometimes he may be sued in his own name, but he’s to be sued by joining the relevant attorney general, because he is the principal law officer of the state or government.