Nigeria News

Lawyers Express Divergent Views over Electronic Filing of Cases in Lagos

Some lawyers in Lagos have reacted differently to the recent initiative by the Lagos State Judiciary to file cases electronically.
 
The lawyers expressed the views in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos yesterday.
Filing of cases electronically (e-filing) is a feature in the state Judiciary Information System (JIS), which affords lawyers the opportunity to file cases from anywhere in the world using the internet.
 
Users are, however, required to possess log in credentials in order to file a case online.
 
A lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Spurgeon Ataene, described the process as “cumbersome,” adding that Nigeria was yet to advance to the stage of e-filing.
 
He said the process had hindered the smooth administration of justice because it requires longer period for cases to be assigned, even with affidavit of urgency.
 
Ataene, therefore, recommended that the e-filing process should be made optional to operate alongside the conventional case-filing process.
 
“I implore the Chief Judge of the state to consider litigants, especially those in prison custody, and ensure a gradual introduction of the electronic filing process,” he urged.
 
He claimed that the full implementation of e-filling of cases in court had left lawyers in difficulties.
 
Another lawyer, Mr. Ogedi Ogu, said the impact of the e-filing process was yet to be felt by lawyers and litigants.
 
“The process is too rigorous; at the time of filing, a suit number is generated which is referred to as ‘temp’; with this, you are expected to re-login after several days, to be assigned a main suit number.
 
“There are situations where after being assigned a “temp,” the suit cannot be traced, and this further creates delay in the hearing of such cases.
 
“However, with the manual filing process, a lawyer is simply issued a suit number which remains the same throughout the life span of the case,” he said.
 
Ogu also urged the state judiciary to return to the conventional manual filing method.
 
A prosecutor, Mr Aminu Alilu, however, expressed a different opinion, saying e-filling process was convenient.
 
He said  it saved cost and time of counsel who were initially faced with difficulties waiting at the registry to file documents.
 
Alilu said although the electronic filing system, like any other novel initiative, might face some challenges, its merits far outweighed any of its demerits.
 
He urged the state’s judiciary to sustain the process.
Another legal practitioner, Mr. Mike Dugeri, also commended the introduction of the e-filing process but urged the judiciary to sensitise counsel and litigants on the process.
 
He said this was necessary for them to appreciate its utility value.
The lawyer said although the process was still experiencing some difficulties in implementation, he was optimistic that its full implementation would save time, money, and improve record keeping in courts.
 
Dugeri urged counsel to be patient and embrace the process, adding that “it will work for the overall benefit of the court system.”

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