LAWSUIT IN NIGERIA
Commencement of a civil action is the process taken to institute an action before a competent court to determine the issues between parties.
Essentially, there are 4 modes of commencing a civil action in court in Nigeria namely;
Each of these modes is dependent on the specific nature of cases.
Factors to be considered before commencing a civil suit
Before civil actions can be filed in Court, there are factors to be considered by the litigant (person filing the action). Some of these factors can be summarized as follows:
Jurisdiction has to do with the subject matter in dispute, the location where the cause of action arose, the court the matter is brought before, the competence of the court to decide on the matter and the composition of the judges sitting in that matter.
The Lawyer usually advises the client on the right court for the subject matter in dispute to be brought.
For example, where the subject matter of a suit is a contract, the limitation period is six (6) years, action for recovery of land is 12 years etc. Thus, it is important for the plaintiff counsel to consider whether the cause of action is out of time before venturing into the expense of issuing a process in court.
This, in fact, is an ethical requirement on all counsel as officers in the administration of justice to first of all advise their clients on alternative dispute resolution, before proceeding with litigation. The alternative dispute resolution methods include arbitration, negotiation, conciliation and mediation. The purpose of these ADR mechanisms is to consider if disputes can be settled amicably between parties without resorting to the litigation
The Lawyer has the duty to look upon the rules of that particular court either the Magistrate, High Court, National Industrial Court or Federal High Court etc to determine the rules guiding commencement of suits in the court.
In our previous article, we explained the procedure for suing someone in Nigeria and how to commence civil actions in various courts in Nigeria.
In conclusion, some legislation/rules require the compliance of certain conditions for initiating a civil action in court. For instance, the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 and provide that for any person to institute an action in Lagos, such person must have complied with the Pre-Action Protocol steps stipulated in the Pre-Action protocol Directives
In order to successfully initiate a civil action in court, the lawyer and the litigants must ensure that these factors that may be determined and considered by the court, are strictly adhered to in order to undertake smooth and successful litigation.
By Litigation Department at Resolution Law Firm
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