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Lagos to establish special court for commercial disputes

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, on Thursday said the state government would soon establish a Fast Track Court to adjudicate on commercial disputes.

Phillips made this known in Lagos while speaking at a stakeholders’ forum on Fast Track Rules and Procedure in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the forum was organised by the state judiciary in collaboration with Justice for All, a project of the British Council.

“The main objective of the fast track court is to reduce the time spent on litigation to a period not exceeding nine months from the commencement of the action till final judgment,” she said.

According to her, the court, which will be established at Tapa, Lagos Island, will adjudicate on matters relating to revenues, mortgages and other commercial cases.

Phillips said the court would ensure speedy resolution of commercial disputes as a way of boosting investment in the state.

“Local and foreign investors are exploring new frontiers to do business in Lagos State which is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria.

“The development demands a judicial system that is efficient, fast and just in line with international standards,” she said.

Also speaking, Mr Ade Ipaye, the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, noted that speedy resolution of commercial disputes was important for economic development.

“Investors are looking for a justice system that works,” Ipaye said.

“They are looking for where they can confidently invest with the expectation that when there are disputes, those disputes can be speedily addressed.

He urged legal practitioners to shun delay tactics, which made a lot of people to lose faith in the justice system.

In his remarks, Dr Bob Arnot, National Programme Manager, Justice for All, said investors coming to Nigeria had always complained about the slow pace of resolving business disputes in the country.

Arnot, who was represented by Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, said this was the reason why the British Council was supporting the initiative.

According to him, the relationship between justice and economic development cannot be overemphasised.

On his part, Mr Onyekachi Ubani, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, said lawyers must be dissuaded from employing delay tactics in fast track matters.

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