There has been few changes at the Registry of the Lagos High Court recently especially with regards to cost of filing of court processes. These changes often occur without notice leaving lawyers sometimes embarrassed and stranded. Shortly before the annual court vacation, lawyers woke up to a notice indicating an introduction of seal for affidavits. Increment in filing fees are also effected at intervals without prior information.
In this narrative, Lagos Lawyer, Mr. Famodimu Jacob Dipo shares his experience yesterday on yet another hike in the cost of filing fees , a third in just one year:
I was at Lagos State Fast track Commercial Registry yesterday (6th September, 2017) to file a suit whose reliefs were same as one filed on 9th June, 2016 with less than 26,000 naira. I went with N40,000 naira thinking that since the reliefs sought in the present suit were not different from the previous one, that amount would suffice. I was shocked to receive a billing of over N100,000 naira for the same reliefs yesterday. I immediately asked one of the staff at registry to know if there is any justification for such exorbitant fees which I believe is unwarranted. I couldn’t receive any explanation. I was told that the fees had been increased 3 times since last time I came to file suit in 2016 with same reliefs. I gathered that the fees was increased last year November, around February and June this year. I also heard that the increment is at the instance of the present Executive Governor of Lagos State.
Any Effect on Judicial Staff Salary?
In my effort to find justification for this horrendous increment, I further ask if such increment has occasioned increment in the salary of judicial staff but the response I got was in the negative. After my enquiry above, it then occur to me that the hike was just a desperate move to boast government revenue without considering the adverse implication of this move on the accessibility of common man to justice and further promotion of self help.
A Call on Seniors and NBA to Intervene
Senior Advocates, Senior colleagues and colleagues reading this piece, I want to remind us that this policy of increment in cost of filing comes at the time we are still struggling to endure speedy administration of justice in the system and at a period where many people prefer to use police to enforce purely civil matters. I perceive the situation now at the Lagos State High Court Registry to mean “Justice is now on sale”. By way of digression from issue discussed herein, last week, I got wind of the steps to move probate section of Lagos State High Court to the Executive arm. I therefore call on our association (the NBA) to rise to this challenge and reverse the trend. If there will be increment of filing fees at all, it should be reasonable with adequate notice and broad consultation major stakeholders. Similar situation happened in Osun State this year and the NBA local branches in Osun State rose to the challenge and got injunction in Court against the draconian increase which is still in force. Find attached below evidence of filing fees on 9/6/16 and the filling fees to be paid as at yesterday, 6/9/17 on same reliefs.