Lagos – with a view to fast track justice delivery in commercial disputes involving small claims, the Lagos State Judiciary, on Monday inaugurated Small Claims Courts to help with the process.
The inauguration of the Small Claims Courts, took place at JIC Taylor Court House, Igbosere, Lagos.
The Chief Judge, Justice Opeyemi Oke, said that the Small Claims Courts would operate at the magistrate level and adjudicate on claims not exceeding N5 million.
She stated that the establishment of the courts was part of the reforms she promised to carry out in order to move the Lagos Judiciary forward in her inaugural address last year.
According to Justice Oke, 15 magistrate courts have been designated as Small Claims Courts within the five judicial divisions in the state.
“Coincidentally, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), a World Bank initiative, under the office of the Vice President on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, also has as part of its reforms ‘Enforcement of Contracts“, with the introduction of specialized small claims commercial courts at the centre of the reforms. For this purpose, two states were chosen as Pilot States, Lagos State and Kano State”.
Justice Oke stated that in January this year, she set up a five-member Small Claims Court Committee made up of a Judge of the High Court, Justice Yetunde Adesanya, been the Chairman with four Magistrates, three of whom she declared are Chief Magistrates with administrative portfolio with the role of providing Enabling Business Environment Initiative.
In her words, the Committee was required to draft a Small Claims Court procedures and guidelines and make recommendations for matters incidental to the workings of the Small Claims Courts within the Magistrates Courts’ system.
She was enthusiastic that the Lagos State Judiciary now has the “Magistrates‘ Court Law (Practice Directions on Small Claims)“ for the operation of the Small Claims Court”.
“The objective of the Small Claims Court’s Procedure is to provide easy access to an informal, inexpensive and Speedy resolution of simple debt recovery disputes in the Magistrates’ Courts, of ciaims, not exceeding N5million.
She stated: “The Small Claims Court’s Procedure is simplified, since every step has been reduced into standard forms, which the claimant or defendant/counter claimant as the case may be simply fills and files, i.e. Letter of demand, Complaint Form, Claim’s Form/Summons among others.
“There is a handbook/guide, which explains each step of the process, guides through the filling of the forms and provide answers to almost every conceivable question that a party who is desirous of using the process may have
“plans to have the Handbook printed in other languages, including Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo and Pidgin English are underway, to encourage the use of the procedure and self representation by semi illiterates and illiterates.
“The Procedure is inexpensive, and it gives rooms to self -representation by parties. It also encourages amicable settlement of the disputes. The Procedure is fast and efficient, every step is time-bound with sanctions for default.
“The entire hearing period from the first date of hearing, inclusive of the time allowed for exploring amicable, settlements must not exceed 30 days. The entire period of proceedings from filing till judgment is not to exceed 60 days,” she stated.
The State Attorney General, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, in his remarks at the ocassion, said that the establishment of the courts will complement the efforts of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration geared towards enhancing justice delivery in the state.
He further said that the courts are features of developed countries like Britain, Russia, America among others.
Below are the fines as stated.
- Defaulting individuals 10k fine and community service for 7days
- Tricycle 7k
- Motorbike 7k
- Cars 20k
- Trucks. 50k
All the fines goes with 7days community service
If you are not on essential duty or have reasonable cause to outside.
You are advised to stay at home.the courts will sit at the three senatorial districts from tomorrow