Supreme Court to rule on mode of filing court process, December 15
The apex court will on December 15, 2017, deliver a landmark judgment on the mode of filing and signing court processes. This followed a pending appeal relating to legal practitioners’ role in the process.
In the suit, the appellant is seeking to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, on the grounds that a legal practitioner known to law did not properly sign the notice of appeal.
According to them, the appeal was signed by “& Co,” contrary to a Supreme Court decision, in the case of Okafor vs Nweke.
The decision held that only a legal practitioner, whose name appears on the roll of the Supreme Court, could competently sign any process to be filed in court.
The respondent, through his counsel, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, is seeking the convening of a full Supreme Court session to determine the appeal, which was established by Afolabi Kuti.
The respondent urged the apex court to depart from all its previous decisions on the point, based on a number of reasons. He contended that a 1968 decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Cole vs Martins was not adverted to, in the case of Okafor vs Nweke, and indeed in many of the decisions that followed it.
He argued that it was held that a process signed by “Lardner & Co” couldn’t be said to be defective when the author was sufficiently identifiable and traceable.
He added that no possible doubt or confusion could arise from his description as such. The respondent further contended that section 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act has been wrongly interpreted to guide the practice and procedure of the courts, especially in relation to the filing of court processes.
In the alternative, the respondent is urging the court to consider the effect of section 4 (9) of the 1999 Constitution, which prohibits a retroactive legislation and apply it to judicial proceedings.
The respondent is also seeking a departure on the ground that these decisions were contrary to public policy of not permitting the trade practice of lawyers to affect the innocent litigants.