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Gordon, Jay (1967) The Development of the Legal System in the Colony of Lagos, 1862-1905. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The development of the legal system in the Lagos colony was primarily influenced by political and economic considerations. Although English-style courts were established, their functioning v/as marred by an inadequate supply of legal personnel and procedures too complicated for the colony's circumstances. By the turn of the century, it was clear that radical changes had to be made in the legal system for Britain to rule effectively the areas coming under its control. For Africans within the colony's jurisdiction, the courts remained alien institutions throughout this period. The courts were established largely for the convenience of European commercial interests, and Africans were not encouraged to make full use of them. Because of the demands of colonial rule, restrictions were placed on the employment of African lawyers and juries, and some fundamental rights were denied persons on trial. The colonial authorities also found it inconvenient to observe the "niceties" of English law. Where larger considerations of policy were involved, especially those pertaining to slavery, debt and land, the law was flagrantly violated by officials. This disregard for legal prescriptions was also evident in the expansion of the colony's jurisdiction to the African states on the mainland. African states were relegated to positions outside the sphere of international law in their relations with the Lagos government. By 1904, the colony's jurisdiction over non-natives was complete throughout Yorubaland, and independent African jurisdiction had been seriously curtailed.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 16:53

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