Chief Judge (CJ) of the Federal High Court (FHC) of Nigeria, Justice John Tsoho has authorized the adoption of virtual proceedings for court cases in all its judicial divisions.
Under the new directive which became necessary due to the Coronavirus pandemic, FHC judges are expected not to hear more than nine cases in a day.
The virtual proceedings which can be either be done on Zoom, Skype or any other audio-visual platform approved by the Court, can only hold with the consent of the parties and their counsels. The Judge and counsel in such proceedings must also be involved.
“Virtual proceeding is hereby adopted for adjudication in the Federal High Court.
“Virtual proceedings can be either by Zoom, Skype or any other audio-visual platform approved by the Court. Where parties and counsel agree to virtual proceedings in a case, he directed them to liaise with the court’s Registrar to schedule the hearings.
“Cases for virtual proceedings shall then be stated on the Cause List, posted on the FHC website and communicated to counsel and parties, either by e-mail or any other electronic means.
“Service of court processes may be effected by e-mails, WhatsApp or as may be directed by the Court, and shall be deemed as good service.
“Service of hearing notices may be effected by e-mail, WhatsApp, text messages or as may be directed by the Court
“The print out of same shall be sufficient proof of service.”
The Chief Judge also directed the use of face masks and maintenance of of social distancing during such proceedings.
“Face Masks must be properly worn by everyone within the court premises to cover their mouths and noses at all times.
“Every person within the premises of the court and inside the court room shall observe the requirement of social and physical distancing of not less than 2 meters (6 feet) apart from each other,
“At any given time, there shall not be a congregation of more than ten (10) within the Court premises, except for purposes of court sittings.
“There shall not be more than twenty (20) persons inside the court room including the court staff and counsel at court sittings.”
The Practice Directions will take off from May 18, 2020.