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John Taylor (judge)

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John Taylor (judge)

Justice John Idowu Conrad Taylor (24 August 1917 – 7 November 1973) Nigerian judicial legend, whose great passion for justice and fair play was balanced by his judicial conservatism which favoured an unsentimental strict interpretation of the law and a rigid adherence to precedent.He was an advocate of judicial restraint and a passive approach to developing the law, and was completely opposed to judicial law making by activist judges. He was the first Chief Justice of Lagos, Nigeria (1964–1973). He was notable for his courage, independence, judicial boldness and integrity.[1]

Education and early life

John Taylor, fourth child of E.J.Alexander Taylor, a prominent lawyer and nationalist, was born in Lagos and attended the Methodist Boys High School, Lagos, before being sent to England and Culford School, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Upon completion of his secondary education, he entered King's College London in 1936 to read law, before transferring to Brasenose College, Oxford in 1937. He was a Boxing Blue at Oxford. He gained a second class degree in the Honour School of Jurisprudence and was subsequently called to the Bar at the Middle Temple on 14 January 1941. He returned to Nigeria in December of that year and joined his father's law firm, which he later headed, on his father's death, in 1947.


Taylor had a swift rise through the Nigerian legal ranks, culminating in appointment as a Judge of the High Court, Western Nigeria, at the age of 39. In 1960 he became Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and, in 1964, Chief Justice of the Federal Territory of Lagos. When, therefore, Lagos State was created in 1967, he became the first Chief Justice of the new state.

In 1967 Justice J.I.C. Taylor became Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, a position which he held until his death in 1973 at the age of only 56. Upon his death, the Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, delivered a speech in which he said: "In an age which corruption, intrigues back biting and the love of office and power are fast becoming a virtue, Mr. Justice Taylor stood out from the crowd with a detachment that has brought immense dignity to the High Office of a Judge".

He also has a major street in Victoria Island,Lagos named after him.[2]


3.Akin Ajose-Adeogun, Mr Justice J.I.C. Taylor: A  Passion for Justice and Fair Play(Ikeja:Lagos State Ministry of Justice Law Review Series,2005).

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