The effect of the Rules of Court in civil jurisprudence especially as it relates to determining the rights and liabilities of individuals and businesses in non-criminal proceedings before the Courts cannot be over-emphasized. However, Practice Directions are guidelines with the force of law enacted to assist such Rules of Court to become more effective in regulating procedure of presenting grievances of parties. While they rank inferior to Rules of Court, Practice Directions direct the form, manner and order of compliance with the general provisions of the Rules of Court. In the light of this, the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Honourable Justice B.B Kanyip, PhD, enacted the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Filling of Applications/Motions in Trade Union Matters and Marking of Exhibits) Practice Direction (No. 1) 2022. The Practice Direction, although signed on 31st May, 2022 became effective on Monday, 13th June, 2022. It generally applies to all causes and matters in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, except as indicated in its provisions or as may be directed by the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
The Practice Direction mainly enumerates the guidelines to be adopted in the filing of applications and motions in trade union matters and marking of documents/ exhibits. The Practice Direction states that all forms of originating processes with the inclusion of applications and motions, especially those that seek for restraining orders for the holding of conference of delegates of a trade union or conduct of trade union elections, must be filed either in Abuja or Lagos Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN). This seems to raise questions of territorial jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court which is by law nationwide, except where this new filing requirement under the Practice Directions in Lagos or Abuja is limited to registry functions and not in the context of jurisdiction of the Abuja or Lagos Judicial Divisions of the NICN.