Introducing 10 new minor claims courts Enugu government bankpawa.co .uk

Introducing 10 new minor claims courts: Enugu government

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The government of Enugu State has established ten small claims courts to address the issue of protracted delays in resolving financial disputes, particularly those involving the recovery of debts and other demands for liquidated funds.

Justice Afojulu Ozoemena, the chief judge, inaugurated the courts in Enugu. He announced that magistrates would preside over cases involving sums of money between five million and ten million Nigerian cedis.

Noting that “the milestone is part of the fulfillment of His Excellency’s manifesto,” he praised Governor Peter Mbah, who is also the Chairman of the Enugu State Ease of Doing Business Council, “for his commitment to effective justice dispensation in the state.”

This came at a time when Dr. Sam Ogbu-Nwobodo, Managing Director/CEO of the Enugu State Investment Development Authority and Focal Person of State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER), stated that the establishment of the Small Claims Courts was in line with the administration’s goal of transforming the state into the premier investment destination in Nigeria, with an economic growth target of $4.4bn to $30bn in the next four to eight years.

“In human interactions and communications, particularly in the conduct of business, it is almost inevitable that disagreements will occur, which usually will require the intervention of the judicial system for their resolution,” said Justice Reuben Odugu, representing the Chief Judge of Enugu State, during his speech at the event.

So, for markets and economies to work correctly, the capacity to settle contractual disputes in real-time is crucial.

To meet this commitment, it is necessary to implement a system of informal, low-cost, and quick dispute resolution.

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All of the above led to the establishment of the Small Claims Court, which has distinct authority and responsibility. For cases involving relatively modest sums of money, this specialist court offers a judicial resolution.

The Court offers a convenient, low-cost, and quick venue for the settlement of small monetary disputes. Anyone can bring their claims before the court, with or without an attorney. In most cases, conflicts between parties involved in a Magistrates’ Court case are heard by a court with limited jurisdiction known as the Small Claims Court.

The necessary legal provisions have been established to enable the court in Enugu State to function. The Magistrates’ Courts Law of Enugu State, 2004, released the Magistrates’ Court Law (Practice Directions on Small Claims) 2023 (the “Practice Directions”) in July 2023.

For matters not addressed in the Practice Directions, 2023, the Small Claims Court proceedings must adhere to the Magistrates’ Court Law of Enugu State and the Magistrates’ Court (Civil Procedure) Rules of Enugu State.

“In the event of a counterclaim, the Court’s monetary jurisdiction can go up to a maximum of N10,000,000.”

He expressed gratitude to the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) secretariat for their tremendous assistance in training the ten learned magistrates and ten assistant chief registrars who would be instrumental in establishing and operationalizing the courts. He also promised that the courts would begin hearing cases shortly after the inauguration.

Dr. Ogbu-Nwobodo, MD of the Enugu State Investment Development Authority, also spoke during the event and praised Governor Mbah for his unwavering commitment to fulfilling the social contract he had with the people of the state, which was focused on investments.

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The Handbook on Small Claims Courts and the court’s practice directives were also unveiled during the event.

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