DEVELOPMENTS IN THE NEW LAGOS STATE HIGH COURT (CIVIL PROCEDURE) RULES, 2019

DEVELOPMENTS IN THE NEW LAGOS STATE HIGH COURT (CIVIL PROCEDURE) RULES, 2019

Preamble: Major emphasis is placed on the application of Alternative Dispute Resolution to facilitate speedy dispensation of matters.

Order 2Overriding Objectives: This is very similar to that in the 2012 Rules. However, emphasis is placed on active management of cases and there is the reiteration of the usage of Alternative Dispute Resolution by legal practitioners before approaching the law courts. This is seen by the necessity to file Pre-Action Protocol Form 01.

Order 4: Explicitly provides for factors which determines the place of instituting actions within Lagos and its provisions are similar to that in the old Rules.

Order 5 – Form and Commencement of Actions
Order 5 Rule 1 – Commencing by Writ: The effect of commencing an action without filing the accompanying processes is that it amounts to a nullity of action. It is noteworthy that in the former rules, the sanction was for the Registrar to refuse to accept the document for filing.
Order 5 Rule 5 (4): When Originating summons is not sealed and filed in the Registry and/or not prepared by the Claimant or his legal practitioner, then the matter is a nullity.
Order 5 Rule 6: There is an inclusion of a provision for parties to re-file the action when cases are transferred.
Order 5 Rule 8: All Originating processes would be screened for suitability for ADR.

Order 9 – Service
Order 9 Rule 5: Electronic mail has been included as a means of substituted service where personal service cannot be effected
Order 9 Rule 6: Service can be made directly and personally or on their guardians when it relates to persons with legal disability. However, for persons above 16 years and living independently or doing business, if served personally, it shall be deemed good and sufficient service.

Order 11Entering Appearance
Order 11 Rule 5: The penalty for entering appearance outside the time stipulated in the Rules is a default fee of One Thousand Naira (N1,000) for each day of default. The 2012 Rules provided Two Hundred Naira (N200) for each day of default.
Order 11 Rule 9: For persons under legal disability they can only enter appearance by their guardians.

Order 17 – Pleadings
Order 17 Rule 5: With the exceptions of persons under legal disability any pleading not specifically denied shall be deemed admitted as against the other party.
Order 17 Rule 18: Where a defendant fails to file his pleadings within Forty-two days of service, pleadings is deemed closed. It is worthy of note that formerly, under Order 15 Rule 4 (which covered pleadings under the old Rules), the provision that “No technical objection shall be raised to any pleading on the ground of any alleged form or want” has been removed from the 2019 Rules.

Order 19: By this order, Statement of Defence is now to be accompanied by List of Documents alongside the other previous requirements.

Order 21 – Admissions
Order 21 Rule 5: The cost to be ordered where a notice to admit or produce comprises documents which are not necessary has been increased to Ten Thousand Naira (N10,000). Whereas the 2012 Rules provided for Five Thousand Naira (N5,000).

Developments in the new Lagos State High CourtCivil Procedure Rules 2019

Order 22 – Default of Pleadings
Order 22 Rule 3(3) – Damages and Detention of Goods: Where a defendant defaults but damages are to be ascertained and for cases of declaratory relief, the Judge must set it down for trial.
Order 22 Rule 9: There is the addition of the provision that where there is no defence and the Court cannot adjudge without Claimant adducing evidence to prove, the Claimant is expected to apply to set matter down for trial.

Order 25 – Withdrawal or Discontinuance
– Where Claimant discontinues before Defence, he pays cost of action to the Defendant.

Order 28 – Alternative Dispute Resolution
Order 28 Rule 1-5: This order was set aside to deal specifically with ADR matters inclusive of applications for enforcement of arbitral awards.
Order 28 Rule 3: ADR Application is by Originating Motion on Notice.
(There are a myriad of new provisions and this Order must be read succinctly).

Order 29 – Discovery and Inspection
Order 29 Rule 10: A Legal practitioner can be liable to committal where he neglects without reasonable cause to give notice of Order for Interrogatories or discoveries served on him.

Order 30 Rule1: Provides that the time for filing issues of facts in dispute in all proceedings is within fourteen days. The 2012 Rules provided for Seven days.

Order 37 – Affidavits
Order 37 Rule 9: Oaths Law has been added as one of the laws guiding affidavits.
Order 37 Rule 10: Unlike in the old Rules, it is now clearly stated that illiterates depositions must be accompanied by its interpretation in English Language.

Order 34Diligent Prosecution of Cases
– This Order expressly puts duties on Counsel to promote diligent prosecution of cases.
Order 34 Rule 3: The Court may require any of the parties to explain the cause of delay in the proceedings and can order cost of the proceedings. Also, if after Twelve months there is no application or proceeding in a pending case, the court SHALL strike out the matter.

Order 35 – Written Addresses
Order 35 Rule 3(3): Except with the leave of the Court, all Written Addresses must not exceed twenty pages and a reply on point of law must not exceed five pages.

Order 43 – Motions and Other Applications
Order 43 Rule 2: It is emphasized in this rule that for an ORDER NISI, the provisions on service of motion and order application shall not apply.

Developments in the new Lagos State High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2019
Scale of Justice

Order 48 – Computation of Time
Order 48 Rule 1: For computation of time of orders or laws, the day in which the order was made or event occurred shall be excluded. For holidays, where the last day of the period is a holiday, the time continues until the end of the day after which is not a public holiday.
– For limitation periods which do not exceed six days, Saturdays and holidays shall be left out of the computation period.
Order 48 Rule 2: Also, it is clearly stated that holiday refers to Sundays and public holidays.

Order 51 – Suing or Defending in Forma Pauperis
Order 51 Rule 9: It is provided here that for persons who get filing fees waived as a result of low means of income and unavailability of legal aid, they can only appeal by leave of the trial or appellate Court and only on grounds of law.

Order 53 – Costs
Order 53 Rule 14: Provides for personal liability of legal practitioners. In addition, reasonable opportunity must be given to the legal practitioner to show cause why the order should not be made.

Order 59 – Fast track
Order 59 Rule 5: With respect to fast track proceedings, the time to file Statement of Defence and other frontloaded processes has been reduced by this rule to Thirty days.
Order 59 Rule 12: This provides that exceptional circumstance is now the only ground for adjournment of trial.

Order 60Proceedings in Revenue Matters
Order 60 Rule 1(2): All Originating processes here are now to be marked as “Qualified for Fast Track”.
Order 60 Rule 3(3): A certificate issued by the Authority pursuant to section 78(3) of Personal Income Tax Act must accompany a petition for recovery of taxes as debt due to the State Tax Authority.
Order 60 Rule 6: Payment by installments is now permitted for a Respondent who does not dispute reliefs subject to the circumstances stated in the Rules.
Order 60 Rule 7: The filing of answer by Respondent who dispute reliefs has been reduced to fourteen days. Whereas the 2012 Rules provided for twenty-one days.
Order 60 Rule 9(1): Hearing of petition after expiration of time for filing and service shall be within fourteen days. The Old Rules had hitherto provided for Seven days.

Order 61 – Probate and Administration
– Order 61 Rule 17: The penalty for intermeddling has been increased to a fine of not less than Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000) instead of Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) which was provided for in the 2012 Rules.

Order 63 – Granting Letters of Administration Without Will
Order 63 Rule 3(2) – Administration Bonds: Judge can now accept ONE surety where the gross value of the estate does not exceed One Million Naira (N1,000,000). Whereas the 2012 Rules provided for estate not exceeding Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250,000).
– It is noteworthy that the above also applies where a Guarantee is required- the only exception here is where the Registrar directs otherwise.

The above comprises some of the recent developments as well as areas in which emphasis were laid in the NEW Lagos State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019.

Kindly scroll down to drop your observations and questions in the comment section.

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