Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Lawyers in Anambra State have rejected the newly-introduced high court and magistrates’ court rules.
They threatened to stop attending courts if they were not withdrawn after seven days.
Committee of Chairmen and Secretaries of branches of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Anambra State, at a joint press briefing at the Bar Centre, Onitsha, said the new court rules amended and brought into force at the twilight of the tenure of the immediate past Chief Judge of the state, Justice Peter Umeadi, has become a clog in the wheel of justice delivery in the state.
Chairman of Chairmen of NBA branches in the state, Paschal Ugwuanyi, who briefed the press said the implementation of the new court rules has brought hardship, not only to lawyers and the masses in Anambra, but all involved in the legal and justice sector.
Ugwuanyi, who was flanked by the Chairmen and Secretaries of NBA, Onitsha, Otuocha, Awka, Aguata, Anaocha, Ihiala and Idemili branches, lamented that lawyers in the state were not carried along in the amendment process of the rules while filing fees in court from the amendment has been increased by over 1000 per cent.
“Order 4 of the new High Court Rules for the first time introduced case evaluation practice into the rules preparatory for Alternative Dispute Resolution. This order, rather than enhance the speedy dispensation of justice, may likely constitute some reasons for delays in speedy hearing and determination of matters in our court.
“The schedules of filing fees in our courts are increased by over 1,000 per cent by the new rules.
“It is believed that money should be paid for filing some processes in our courts to balance some costs, but, when filing fees are hiked, the common man in the street cannot afford to file ordinary processes in courts, anarchy is being invited.
“We see it as unreasonable to increase filing fees in court by over 1,000 per cent. By our old rules, hearing notices were not paid for in our courts, but, by the new rules, hearing notices now cost N1,500 each. Cost of certification of documents is now assessed by pages at N1,000 per page. One can now imagine what it will cost to certify 100 pages of record of appeal or judgment of courts.”
The lawyers noted that the new rules were not properly discussed by the stakeholders but hurriedly put into use.
They dismissed the new rules as “impracticable, untenable and unacceptable to lawyers in Anmabra State” and called on Governor Willie Obiano to prevail on the acting Chief Judge to suspend further application of the new court rules, pending when the stakeholders brainstorm and come out with a well considered rules of courts.