NAN – Some lawyers in Lagos have called for the use of both electronic process and manual process of filing cases side by side to facilitate justice administration in the state.
Electronic process of filing lawsuits by counsel on behalf of their clients is a legal reform undertaken by the Lagos State judiciary in September 2012 to fast-track administration of justice and justice delivery.
Since the introduction of the e-filing system, there have been bothkudos and knocks from members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) about its efficacy and the hiccups being experienced.
The lawyers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos on Thursday that the electronic process of filing cases was a novel idea that would require
a lot of time for the counsel to get familiar with.
A lawyer and social critic, Mr Spurgeon Ataene, said that while the electronic process of filing of cases was not a bad innovation as it will hasten the judicial system, its smooth operation might take some time.
“You file cases sometimes it will take you quite a while, maybe an adjournment or two, before you get to know even the court and the next date of adjournment. It is very embarrassing.
“At the time we were doing manual filing, at least, you will follow what you have filed, you will see how the files are moving down to when it is being assigned to a court.
“Now, the reverse is the case. It is very difficult to understand.
“ What they would have done is to allow manual filing side by side with electronic.
“In which case the manual filing would have taken place first, the cases would have been in court.
“And then, they can now put all these cases into an electronic system so that it would be easy for you to access which court.
“When they have been assigned to a court, then they can load it to the system.”
According to Ataene, “there should be a gradual adoption of the electronic filing process, instead of a full implementation which most times, leaves lawyers in difficulty”.
Similarly,a lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Ogedi Ogu, also stressed the need for the modification of the electronic process of filing cases on behalf of litigants.
He, however, agreed to the fact that if fully embraced, the introduction of the electronic filing process is cost-effective in addition to improving the system of keeping records in the courts.
“There is still need for the e-filing section to improve on it.
“For instance, when they initially started, they were sending updates to counsel through their emails.
“ But these days, you don’t get any updates from them, you still have to go back to the internet to log in.
“But before, once they assigned your case to issue permanent suit number, they will communicate to you but these days there is no such thing.
“You have to log into the reception for you to have any update,”
Ogu , however, said if the problems could be addressed, the electronic process of filing cases in court would go a long towards quickening the disposal of cases.
Also speaking, another lawyer, Mr Emenike Nnoromele, described the process as “a welcome development.”
Nnoromole said that the exercise saved the time of counsel who in the past waited endlessly at court registries to file their suits.
The lawyer said that the merits of the electronic process of filing cases far outweighed its demerits despite the teething problems.
He urged other legal practitioners to buy into the system and sustain it.
According to him, operating both the electronic and conventional filing processes side by side makes no harm to justice administration.