April 24, 2020
AN APPRAISAL OF THE PRACTICE DIRECTION FOR REMOTE HEARING OF CASES IN THE LAGOS STATE JUDICIARY – BY FELIX AYEM (ASSOCIATE)
Faced with COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant devastating effects on economic, religious and social activities across the world, businesses, institutions and governments have been left with no choice than to temporarily shut down.
On the 23rd of March, 2020, the Chief Justice of Nigeria issued a circular to all Heads of Courts directing the suspension of all court sittings for an initial period of two weeks with effect from the 24th March, 2020. The directive on the lockdown of courts in the country was extended indefinitely on the 6th of April, 2020. This has brought the court system and its administration in the country to a standstill, causing enormous damage to the justice delivery system in the country.
The foregoing has necessitated the use of alternative measures in order to maintain the existence of a functional judicial system and the administration of justice in the country. Thus, online platforms such as Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc are being embraced as alternative means for court proceedings instead of the hitherto physical appearances in courts due to the upsurge in the pandemic.
At the forefront of this novel idea is the Lagos State Judiciary which recently announced its readiness to issue a Practice Direction for the Remote Hearing of Cases in Lagos (Practice Direction). When this Practice Direction comes into effect, it will help in the promotion and speedy delivery of justice in Lagos State as some selected cases would be remotely heard using suitable electronic platforms.
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