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Govt moves to deepen small claims courts

By Onyedika Agbedo
06 October 2022   |   3:44 am
Federal Government, yesterday, declared that establishment of Small Claims Courts had been of tremendous benefit to the economy, hence moves to ensure states key into the policy.

Federal Government, yesterday, declared that establishment of Small Claims Courts had been of tremendous benefit to the economy, hence moves to ensure states key into the policy.
 
Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, made the declaration at the opening of a two-day Peer-to-Peer Learning Session for State Judiciaries on Small Claims Courts organised by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in Ikeja, Lagos.
 
She said seven states, comprising Lagos, Kano, Ogun, Edo, Ekiti, Nasarawa and Jigawa, that have established the courts had recorded speedy settlement of business disputes involving Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), adding that Bayelsa, Kaduna, Sokoto states and FCT judiciary are at the verge of launching theirs.
 


Oduwole noted that the establishment of the courts followed the need to expedite adjudication, particularly financial claims, and to reduce cases from the dockets of the High Courts over simple commercial disputes.

“Most MSMEs require liquidity to carry on their businesses. In instances where a financial claim arises from business interactions, best practice requires speedy court settlement. This ultimately shows an improvement in the quality and efficiency of judicial processes.
 
“The establishment and operationalisation of the Small Claims Courts within the aforementioned seven states magistracy has addressed this issue. All financial claims of N5, 000, 000 and below are heard at the Small Claims Courts. Special registries, as well as the appointment of Special Sheriffs specifically for these courts have also been put in place.
 
“These courts provide easy access, inexpensive and speedy resolution for debt and liquidated money recovery disputes. These courts are regulated by the Practice Directions issued by the Chief Judge of the state pursuant to Section 274 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended),” she said.
 


Oduwole explained that the learning session, which was attended by Registrars, Magistrates and Judges from across states of the federation, was to create an avenue for states that were yet to establish Small Claims Courts to interface with others that operate the system to share knowledge and experiences.
 
In his keynote address, Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, said Small Claims Courts have had very successful operations in the nation’s economic capital.
 
“The success of the Small Claims Courts in the state has had a ripple effect in decongesting the Magistrate Courts, speedy resolution of small claims, improving the economy of the state and the nation’s economy at large. It has also positively impacted on the global outlook of the nation,” he added.