Lagos judiciary announces N30,000 fee for virtual hearing

The Lagos judiciary has announced the payment of a N30,000 fee per session for all remote or virtual court proceedings across the state from April 1.

This was announced in a circular by the acting chief registrar, Tajudeen Elias, dated March 28.

The circular said all applications for virtual hearings must be made to the court hearing.

It added that payment shall be made upon approval to the court.

The circular said the assistant chief registrar (litigation) in Ikeja or Lagos would schedule the case for hearing upon receipt of payment.

“No other office or officer is authorised to conduct or schedule cases for virtual proceedings in the high and magistrate courts of Lagos state. The First Hightower Infotech Ltd. (FHTI) will continue to provide internet access and service for the courts where they currently offer such services.

“Court registrars are directed to ensure strict compliance with the circular,” it said.

Commenting on the development, Musbau Famuyiwa, the managing director of Global T & T New Solutions Ltd., said the virtual hearing became popular in Nigeria during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global T&T partnered the Lagos ministry of justice on virtual court proceedings.

Mr Famuyiwa said the virtual hearing was a means to ensure the continuity of court operations while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

He explained that virtual hearings had been free from inception and that their use had started since the beginning of COVID-19 to attend to pressing cases.

He said the fee payment would make the virtual hearing more effective by scaling it up to achieve and aid justice system.

He said, “In terms of scaling it up, the judiciary does not have the capacity and infrastructural development. That is why Global T& T is involved to help achieve the goal.

“If the judiciary finds a third party to fill in that gap to provide this service, it will go a long way. Imagine someone coming from Port Harcourt to attend a matter in Lagos. You know how expensive that is but if such a person can join virtually, it will dramatically reduce the cost.

“Also, imagine a witness flying down from outside the country to give evidence when he can easily pay the sum of N30,000 to avoid flight tickets and other expenses.”

He reiterated that the court was not forcing anyone to pay for the fee or make use of a virtual hearing.

“People are already tapping into this service, but the court is not forcing anyone to use the virtual hearing. The virtual hearing has also been extended to all magistrate courts in the state.

“The service charge of N30,000 is going to our company’s purse,” he said.

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