The Chief Judge of Federal High Court, John Tsoho, has issued a new Practice Direction exempting payment of default fees incurred by lawyers during the over-two-month period lost to the just-end judiciary workers’ strike.
A statement issued Friday evening by the court’s Chief Information Officer, Catherine Nwandu, said the Chief Judge based his decision on the protracted strike action by Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
JUSUN had on April 6 embarked on the industrial dispute to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the Judicial arm of government, an action which grounded court proceedings across Nigeria.
The strike was only suspended last Thursday after 64 days of crippling court activities nationwide.
“The period covering the JUSUN strike action, being from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June, 2021, is hereby exempted,” Mr Tsoho was quoted to have said.
He added that the practice direction which applies to both civil and criminal cases, would take effect from June 15, 2021.
“Following the resumption of work after the strike action by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June 2021 which affected court proceedings and filling of processes, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Honorable Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, announces to Hon. Judges, stakeholders and the general public, the essential need for a new Practice Direction on EXEMPTION OF PAYMENT OF DEFAULT FEES FOR FILING OF PROCESSES computation of time for the payment of default fees for extension of time for filing processes in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for the above period.
“Pursuant to the powers conferred on him, he thereby issues the following Practice Directions:
“COMPUTATION of Time for filing of court processes and payment of default fees for extension of time;
Notwithstanding the provisions of Order 48 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019 on computation of time for filling of court proceedings or doing an act as provided by the Rules and payment of default fees for extension of time thereof, the period covering the JUSUN strike action, being from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June, 2021, is hereby exempted.”
The practice direction says it will be applicable “save to the extent or as may be otherwise directed by the Chief Judge, apply to both criminal and civil causes and matters in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.”
“These Practice Directions shall be cited as the Federal High Court (Exemption of Payment of Default Fees for Filing of Processes) Practice Directions (No. 2) 2021.
“The Practice Directions take effect from Tuesday, the 15th day of June, 2021,” the statement.