How to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Nigeria

Filed in Articles by on July 17, 2022

Following the creation of the Small Claims Court in Lagos State in 2012, the Magistrates’ Court Law was issued by the Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke because of the restrictive framework for the take-off and sleek operation of the new regime.

Parties to those disputes conjointly expectedly look for settlement daily either by instituting legal actions within the court of law or by submitting to associate arbitration panel, under the terms of their agreements.

This piece evaluates the impact of the institution and operation of the little Claims Court on resolving economic disputes in metropolis State.

A background is additionally provided on the worldwide evolution of the little Claims Court with comparative insight into the application and procedures applicable in several jurisdictions.

History of Small Claims Courts.

The Small Claims Court has evolved over the centuries and was derived to the little county or magistrate’ courts in a medieval European country, that were popularly noted because of the “Court of Pie-powders”.

These little courts were established to judicially resolve disputes among little merchants, artisans, itinerant traders, and also the like that traveled to different places, typically on foot.

How to File a Case in a Small Claims Court in Nigeria.

For the determination of a dispute between litigants, claims and cases can only be commenced in any such state as long as the following requirements are met:

1. The applicant or one in all the Claimants must do or conduct business within the state in which it is filed.

2. The suspect or one in all the Defendants must do or conduct business within the State;

3. The explanation for action must be premised completely or partially on what happened within the State;

4. The claim is for a liquidated financial demand not exceeding N5,000,000 (Five Million Naira), excluding interest and costs; and

5. The applicant has served on the suspect, a Letter of Demand, within the prescribed kind.

Given the target of the Small Claims Court and also the target-class of claims and litigants, the procedure has primarily been simplified by reducing same into commonplace forms, that the applicant or Defendant/Counter-claimant, because the case is also, will merely fill out and file at the written account of a adjudicator Court having jurisdiction to listen to little claims suits. These embody kind SCA one for Letter of Demand; kind SCA a pair of for grievance kind; kind SCA three for Summons; kind SCA five for Defence/Counterclaim; kind SCA seven for Order of Substituted Service; and kind SCA eight for attractiveness Form, among others.

Where a case satisfies the stipulated criteria for Commencement of Action (stated beneath Article 2) as enumerated on top of, the Claim thence shall be marked “Qualified for little Claims” by the person answerable of the little Claims written account and also the human shall thenceforth be directed to pay applicable filing fees.

The case files in respect of a punctually marked Claim is needed to be forwarded, among twenty-four hours.

Defense/Counterclaim and Hearing of Cases.

A suspect punctually served with a Summons from any Small Claims Court written account is needed to file his Defence/Admission or Counterclaim, within the prescribed kind, among seven (7) days.

When a suspect fails to file a solution to the Claim, he is also controlled to own admitted the Claim. An applicant WHO desires to reply to a Defendant’s Counter-claim has among 5 (5) days to file a reply to the same. The filing of the Claimant’s Reply marks the shut of pleadings.

The adjudicator is duty-bound to push, encourage and facilitate unthreatening settlement of a dispute among the parties by providing settlement choices to the parties as he deems work, at the primary look of the parties before the Court.

Judgment, Enforcement, and Appeal of Rulings.

An adjudicator of the little Claims Court is needed to deliver judgment in a very dispute before it among fourteen (14) days of the completion of the hearing.

This is often needed to incorporate the Court’s determination of problems raised in any talk application(s) filed by any of the parties. Notably, the apply Directions give that the whole amount of proceedings from filing until judgment shall not exceed sixty (60) days).

However, a judgment by the Small Claims Court shall not be invalid by reason of the whole proceedings of the court having exceeded sixty (60) days.

The adjudicator is equally needed to issue documented copies of the judgment instantly when it’s delivery however in any event not beyond seven (7) days from the date of the delivery of the judgment.

Comparison of Small Claims Court in Nigeria and Other Jurisdiction.

The construct of the Small Claims Court has over the years developed into a regular world apply. While there square measure manifest similarities within the practices and procedures applicable in several jurisdictions across the world, there exist conjointly variations caused by the native peculiarities and national aspirations.

In parts of the UK like England, cases placed on the little claims track at the County Court embody Claims within which the monetary price is a smaller amount than £10,000 (the equivalent of N5,000,000) and cases involving personal injuries or disputes between landlords and tenants wherever the quantity concerned doesn’t exceed £1,000 (the equivalent of N500,000).


Whilst the little Claims Court has its advantages and disadvantages, it’s worked in several jurisdictions world over and there’s little question that with smart work, commitment and determination, it’ll equally work with success in metropolis State.

We note though parties are advised to represent themselves in the Small Claims Court, businesses and firms should use the services of lawyers in establishing their claims before the Court.

Finally, we have a tendency to submit that adequate and periodic coaching within the application and procedure of the little Claims Court for Magistrates, Registrars, Clerks, Sheriffs and all relevant judiciary employees, would be vital to the successful operating of little claims business disputes resolution in metropolis State, and by extension, Nigeria.

What’s your take on this? We believe this article was helpful, if yes, don’t hesitate to share this information with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp.

CSN Team.

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