Nigeria: A Consideration Of The Amendments Introduced In The 2019 High Court Civil Procedure Rules Of Lagos State

Last Updated: 16 May 2019
Article by Tobiloba Oluleye
Most Popular Article in Nigeria, May 2019


On 21st January 2019, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke, launched the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 ('the new rules') which repealed the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2012 ('the old rules').

Consequently, the new rules came into force on 31st January 2019 and are accompanied by two Practice Directions, namely "Expeditious Disposal of Civil Cases: Practice Direction No 1 of 2019-Backlog Elimination Programme (PD 1) and "Expeditious Disposal of Civil Cases: Practice Direction No 2 of 2019 -Pre-Action Protocol (PD 2)

The old rules were plagued with different criticisms such as excessive delays in the administration of justice, and non-compliance with international best standards. It is expected that the introduction of the new rules will implement reforms directed towards the achievement of just, speedy and efficient administration of justice, and address the shortcomings identified in the old rules.[1]


Some of the principal changes/amendments introduced in the new rules are highlighted below:

Form and Commencement of Action: A person instituting an action (Claimant) must include the Pre-action protocol form 01 with other supporting documents.[2] The supporting documents are called Pre-Action Protocol Bundle; express provisions are made regarding this in the accompanying Practice Direction on Pre-Action Protocol. There was no provision on this in the old rules.

Service of Originating Process: A judge is now empowered to grant an application for an order of substituted service by electronic mails (emails).[3] This is an improvement on the old rules which did not make provision on this.

Appearance: A legal practitioner appearing for a Defendant is now required to provide a telephone number and email address in in the Memorandum of Appearance.[4] Furthermore, the penalty for late appearance has been increased from ₦200 (Two Hundred Naira) to ₦ 1000 (One Thousand Naira) for each day of default.[5]

Admissions: When a party's notice to produce comprises documents that are not necessary, the party shall pay costs (penalty) occasioned by such notice which shall not be less than ₦10,000 (Ten Thousand Naira).[6] This was an increment from ₦5,000 (Five Thousand Naira) provided for in the old rules.

Amendment of Originating Process and Pleadings: The penalty for not amending any filed process or document within the specified time, or in the absence of a specified time), within seven(7) days after an order to amend has been made, has been increased from ₦200.00 (Two Hundred Naira) to ₦1000.00 (One Thousand Naira) for each day of default.[7]

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Proceedings: The new rules require any application for ADR proceedings to be commenced by Originating Motion while the old rules only provided for Motion on Notice.[8] Also, the period within which an application can be made to set aside or remit any award has been extended from six (6) weeks to three (3) months after such award has been made and published to the parties.[9]

Discovery and Inspection: The liability of a legal practitioner who neglects without reasonable excuse to give notice to his client upon receipt of order for interrogatories, or discovery or inspection has been changed from attachment to committal.[10]

Issues, Inquires, Accounts and References to Referees: The period within which issues of facts in dispute are to be filed after closing of pleadings has been extended from seven (7) to fourteen (14) days.[11]

Proceedings at Trial: The time within which an application can be made to relist a matter that was struck out or set aside has been extended from six (6) to seven (7) days after the order or judgment; or other extended period the judge may allow.[12]

Filing of Written Address: The volume of a written address must not exceed twenty (20) pages, and a reply on point of law must not exceed five (5) pages, except with the leave of Court. There was no limit on the number of pages of a written address in the old rules.[13]

Default Fees: The liability for a party who defaults in completing an act within the prescribed timeline has been increased from a daily default fee of ₦200 (Two Hundred Naira) to ₦1000.00 (One Thousand Naira) for each day the default continues.[14]

Costs: Where an offer of settlement made in the course of Case Management, ADR or Pre-Action Protocol is rejected by a party and the said party eventually succeeds at trial but the award is not in excess of the offer of settlement earlier made, the winning party must pay the costs of the losing party from the time of the offer of settlement up to judgment.[15] An offer for settlement made in the course of Pre-Action Protocol was not included in the old rules.

Fast Track Procedure: The time within which a defendant is required to file a response under Fast Track Procedure has been reduced from forty-two (42) days to thirty (30) days.[16]

Proceedings in Revenue Matters: A Respondent who disputes the reliefs sought in Revenue matters must file an Answer within fourteen (14) days of the service of the Petition as opposed to twenty-one (21) days in the old rules.[17] A Petitioner who intends to respond to a Respondent's Answer must file a further affidavit and written reply within three (3) days as opposed to seven (7) days in the old rules.[18] However, the period for hearing petitions after the expiration of the time limited for filing and service has been increased from seven (7) to fourteen (14) days.[19]

Conflicts that arise in the course of hearing such matters must now be resolved by recourse to the provisions of the relevant tax laws.[20] In the old rules, the Court may either decide the matter upon the Affidavits or may direct that the matter be decided by oral evidence in court.

Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration without Will: A person applying for grant of probate and letters of administration without will may require only one surety where the entire estate is not worth more than ₦1,000,000 (One Million Naira).[21] Under the old rules, the estate value for one surety was ₦250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira). Under the new rules, where a guarantee is required, it shall be given by two sureties, except where the gross value of the estate does not exceed ₦1,000,000 (One Million Naira.[22]


The Practice Directions titled "Expeditious Disposal of Civil Cases: Practice Direction No 1 of 2019-Backlog Elimination Programme (PD 1) and "Expeditious Disposal of Civil Cases: Practice Direction No 2 of 2019 -Pre-Action Protocol (PD 2) are designed to ensure the swift and expedient disposition of civil cases, and eradication of backlog cases.

PD 1 applies to civil proceedings instituted by claim (including counter claim, and renewal of claim) in the High Court Registry, and such other proceedings as the Chief Judge may direct. (It does not apply to proceedings on a separate list - e.g. the fast track list).)

PD 1 contains the following innovations:

  1. Designation of qualifying cases as "Back Log":

Cases filed over 5 years ago and are yet to be decided or settled are qualified to be handled as backlog cases under the backlog elimination programme. The backlog cases are to be struck out, withdrawn, settled or decided expeditiously.

  1. Documents based trial:

PD 1 gives the parties to backlog cases the opportunity to opt for a trial based solely on documentary evidence.

  1. Trial Plan:

In the event that the parties to backlog cases are unable to reach a resolution through alternative disputes resolution mechanisms, the parties are expected to draw up a detailed trial plan.

  1. A flow chart:

PD 1 features a simplified flow chart which illustrates the general flow of the procedure under the practice directions. This is a user-friendly feature that aims to make the system easy to understand by non-lawyers.

  1. Time for delivery of judgment (60 days):

Judgment in a backlog case is to be delivered within 60 days of the adoption of final addresses by both parties. It is notable that this period is shorter than the 90-day period prescribed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

PD 1 stipulates strict timelines, which if not complied with will attract stiff sanctions and penalties. For example, where a case is struck out for non-compliance with the return date attached to the CMC notice or for failure to comply with the procedural timeline or for failure to appear on any court dates under the backlog hearings, the party applying for restoration of proceedings shall pay costs not less than ₦100,000.

The PD 2 establishes the Pre-Action Protocol. The Pre-Action Protocol is one of the documents to be filed along with the originating processes and it is to be frontloaded only in Lagos, by the Claimant only. The Pre-Action Protocol applies to all actions instituted at the High Court of Lagos State.

PD 2 contains the following initiatives:

  1. Pre-Action Protocol Bundle:

A claimant instituting an action must include Pre-Action protocol form 01 with other supporting documents called the Pre-Action Protocol Bundle which must be spiral bound separately and arranged in appropriate order. The Pre-Action Protocol Bundle consists of the pre-action correspondence between the parties to show evidence that ADR has been considered.

  1. Settlement of Disputes through ADR:

Mandatory provisions to make parties resolve their dispute through ADR, and only considering litigation as the last resort. Upon proceeding to litigation, each party's l lawyer is expected to deliver a statement on oath stating reasons for his/her insistence on litigation rather than settlement.

  1. Provisions for specific actions:

Extensive provisions have been made on the application of the pre-action protocol to some specific actions such as on Defamation, Mortgages, Land Matters, Recovery of Debts, and Recovery of Premises.

  1. Failure of Compliance with the Protocol:

Some of the penalties include a daily default fee of N1000 which shall accrue as costs in favour of the counter-party. There is also a minimum cost of N100, 000 for every person who unreasonably refuses to comply but insists on going to trial.

The PD 1 mandates parties to make efforts to resolve the dispute through all the means of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and only considering litigation as the last resort. This is to reduce the truck-load of matters that are usually filed at the court and to prevent the filing of frivolous actions.


The new rules and the Practice Directions are commendable initiatives in the effort to automate and increase access to justice as well as remove avoidable delays in the dispensation of justice.

However, we note that on the face of the rules, the issue of impromptu absence of judges from the courtroom has not been dealt with. This is one aspect that rules of courts in Nigeria have not made provisions on despite its importance to the delivery of justice. It is hoped that the new rules will produce the desired result and that if necessary and when the circumstances require, it be further amended to address any pending issue.

[1] PM News, (2019) Lagos CJ launches new High Court of Lagos Civil Procedure Rules (online). Available at: (Accessed: 1st February 2019).

[2] High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 ('the new rules'), Order 5 rules 1(2) (e) & 5(3) (d).

[3] Ibid. Order 9 rule 5(1).

[4] Ibid. Order 11 rule 2(2) & (3).

[5] Ibid. Order 11 rule (5).

[6]Ibid. Order 21 rule 5.

[7]Ibid. Order 26 rule 4.

[8]Ibid. Order 28 rule 3(1).

[9]Ibid. Order 28 rule 4(2).

[10]Ibid. Order 29 rule 10.

[11]Ibid. Order 30 rule 1(1).

[12]Ibid. Order 33 rule 5(3).

[13]Ibid. Order 35 rule 3(3).

[14]Ibid. Order 48 rule 4.

[15] Ibid. Order 53 rule 2.

[16] Ibid. Order 59 rule 5(1).

[17] Ibid. Order 60 rule 7(1).

[18] Ibid. Order 60 rule 8.

[19] Ibid. Order 60 rule 9(1).

[20] Ibid. Order 60 rule 9(2).

[21] Ibid. Order 63 rule 3(2).

[22] Ibid. Order 63 rule 4(5) (a).

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