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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

A Legal Practitioner Remains The Only Proper Person To Sign Court Processes, Supreme Court Rules

A Legal Practitioner Remains The Only Proper Person To Sign Court Processes, Supreme Court Rules

Supreme Court in Abuja

The Apex Court of Nigeria, which is the Supreme Court, has finally put to rest the issue with respect to who is a proper person to sign processes in court.

We recall that an appeal was pending before the Apex Court for review with respect to the issue of a proper person to sign processes to be filed in court.

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The appellants had sought to set aside the judgment of the court of appeal, on the grounds, amongst others, that a notice of appeal was not properly signed by a legal practitioner known to law, in that it was signed “& Co.”

Urging the court to depart from its previous decision in the case of Okafor v Nweke, the court was faced with the opportunity of changing the status quo. The court on the 15th day of December 2017 had to therefore put the matter to rest as it gave judgment in favour of its previous decision.

The court in delivering this landmark judgment affirmed that this is the first time the court will be seating in full to hear and determine whether the Supreme Court can depart from its own old decision in Okafor v. Nweke as to who can sign a court process.

According to the court, it is not persuaded to depart from its previous decision in the matter. In its words:

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“The court is not persuaded by the argument of the Respondent that it should depart from its earlier decision in Okafor v Nweke, that it is only a legal practitioner whose name appears on the Roll of the Supreme Court, can competently sign any process to be filed in court…Consequently, the appeal filed succeeded on the ground that notice of appeal for which the Respondent had earlier secured judgment at the Court of Appeal was incompetent.”

Based on the foregoing the law remains that it is only a legal practitioner whose name appears on the Roll of the Supreme Court, can competently sign any process to be filed in court, therefore counsel are advised from engaging in practices that is contrary to the decision of the court in order not to be faced with the disappointing tale of improper processes before the bench.

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