Nigeria: How To Sue A Person In Nigeria

Last Updated: 26 November 2018
Article by Resolution Law Firm


The process of suing someone in Nigeria is to bring an action in Court against a person for various reasons such as a breach of contract, tortuous act and among others.

Before taking the decision to sue a person in Nigeria, it is good to consider whether there are other options available for reconciling differences or enforcing one's rights. In some instances, resolving disputes through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as arbitration, reconciliation or mediation might be favourable to a person than suing an offending party in court.

Furthermore, before instituting an action against a person there are preliminary issues that must be considered in filing a lawsuit against any offending party. It should be noted that there is a capacity in which an action can be instituted in Court.

For an action to be competent the parties must be either natural (humans) or juristic (companies). Also, the cause of action is an important factor to be considered before suing a person. This cause of action is a series of facts that led to the right of an action before the Court. In suing a person the cause of action is contained in the Statement of Claim or particulars of claim. To determine whether a person has a right of a cause of action in court, then he/she must be directly affected by the fact or series of facts of the action.

A claim is only valid where there is a law that supports the claims against an offending party. One cannot sue a person on frivolous excuses neither can the court adjudicate on a matter that exists in a vacuum.

To sue a person in court, the services of a lawyer will be required to bring that action in a court. This is because an individual who is not a lawyer is not an officer of the court, and only a lawyer, who is an officer of the court, can institute an action in the court on behalf of an aggrieved party. The services of a lawyer would include advising a client against the strength or viable weakness of his claims against another, a lawyer is also charged with the duty to file processes and documents in court on behalf of a party who wants to sue. Where a frivolous action is filed in court by a counsel on behalf of a litigant, the lawyer will be personally held liable and in most cases be made to pay the cost of such frivolous suit.

In suing, where one cannot afford to employ the services of a lawyer, such person can contact organizations that offer free services such as Office of the public defender, Non-government Organizations, Human Rights Commission and Legal Aid Council. Some lawyers in private practice may also offer a pro-bono service to indigent persons or offer such services contingency fee basis.

Procedure On How To Sue A Person In Nigeria

The first step in suing a person is to file an action in Court against the person. An action is usually brought to a court with court's processes such as a writ of summons or originating summons accompanied with all necessary documents.

The jurisdiction is key aspect of suing a person in Nigeria. It is not every court that can hear any cases. The jurisdiction is what conferred on the court the right or legitimacy to hear a case. Essentially, the jurisdiction of the court in Nigeria can be divided into territorial jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. The following conditions will guide a person who wants to sue someone to determine whether a Court has an inherent jurisdiction to hear such a matter:

  • In civil cases, the monetary value of a matter determines whether it is the Magistrate Court or High Court that would have jurisdiction to hear the matter. For example, where the monetary claim is N10, 000,000 or below in the Lagos State, such case or claim can be instituted at the Magistrate Court.
  • Where the monetary claim exceeds N10, 000,000 for a simple breach of contract or related matter, it is the High Court of the State that has jurisdiction to hear such case.
  • Where the matter in question is related to the property or landed matter, it is only the High Court of the State that can hear such a case.
  • Where the dispute involves an employer and employee, such matter can only be instituted at the National Industrial Court.
  • An action or any petition under the matrimonial causes, which involves husband and wife statutorily married, can only be filed in the High Court of a State.
  • The action based on the enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights of any person may be instituted in either the Federal High Court or the National Industrial Court.
  • An action solely based on maritime or admiralty issues can only be filed at the Federal High Court

Filing of an action in Nigeria involves the payment of requisite fees. Where filing fees have bee paid, the case will be duly filed at the registry of the court and the offending party or the defendant will be served or notified with a copy of all processes or court documents filed by the claimant.

The defendant willing to defend an action is also expected to file a statement of defense together with a list of witnesses to be relied on, written statements on oath of the witnesses and copies of all documents to be relied on during the trial of the suit.

The suit may be scheduled for hearing where the parties have joined issues or where the court has seen a proof and it satisfied that the offending party or the defendant or the respondent has been duly served with the case of the claimant or the party suing. The Court in deciding the case will consider evidence placed before it, the claims and prayers of both parties.

The court decides every civil case on a balance of probability; awarding judgment in favour of the party with the strongest evidence.


Suing a person in Nigeria is a way of enforcing one's rights by instituting an action in court. One must also not forget that there are alternative means of resolving conflicts without resorting to court, the alternative dispute resolution mechanism, which is faster and cheaper in most cases.

For an action to be competent, the parties must be legal parties with the legal capacity to sue and be sued. The burden of proof in a civil case is on the party filing suit or claiming something from the other party, and it requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that the events alleged to have occurred more likely than not occurred.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions