Proper service is a pre-condition to the exercise of a court’s jurisdiction. Non-service robs the court off its jurisdiction to hear and determine a suit. The essence of service is to give notice to the other party on whom service is to be effected, so that he might be aware of, and able to resist, if he may, that which is sought against him. Odutola v Kayode (1994) 2 NWLR (Pt. 324) 1 at 21 Paras D-E.
This article discusses the service of foreign court process in Nigeria and service of Nigerian court processes in foreign countries. The article will use the High Court of Lagos State Civil Procedure Rules 2012 as a point of reference.
In an increasing globalized world, there are situations where the subject matter of a suit is located in a different country. It is possible the act, obligation and deed sought to be construed or enforced took place in a foreign country. The need to serve a party in a foreign country might also arise where the relief sought is against a party resident
outside the country.
The service of a foreign court process in Nigeria or in a foreign country is governed by the High court civil procedure rules of various states. Any proceedings conducted without proper service is void ab initio.
PROCEDURE FOR SERVICE OF FOREIGN COURT PROCESS IN NIGERIA (ORDER 8, RULE 5 OF LAGOS STATE HIGH COURT CIVIL PROCEDURE RULES 2012)
PROCEDURE FOR SERVING NIGERIAN COURT PROCESS IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY (ORDER 8 RULE 3 OF LAGOS STATE HIGH COURT CIVIL PROCEDURE RULES 2012) (NO CONVENTION)
However, a judge can grant an order for leave to serve by substituted service in a foreign country. (Order 8, Rule 8). In addition, irrespective of the procedure above, the court can grant an order to serve a process in a foreign country via courier (Order 8, Rule 3).
Service of court process on parties to a suit is a fundamental condition to be fulfilled. Any decision of a court, no matter how instructive without proper service, would be null and void. Parties need to ensure processes are properly filed.
Dayo Adu – firstname.lastname@example.org
Omolola Ahmed – Omolola.email@example.com
Ridwan Oloyede – Ridwan.firstname.lastname@example.org