Wig

The Kano state judiciary has inaugurated a small claims court to enable speedy resolution of commercial disputes for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).

The launch was in partnership with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which “aims to make Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business”.

This is according to a statement signed by Jumoke Oduwole, PEBEC secretary, on Tuesday.

Oduwole said the court will improve judicial process in the state by providing easy access to cost-effective and fast resolution of debt recovery disputes involving small claims of N5 million and below.

She said prior to the establishment of the small claims court, the 2019 World Bank Doing Business report revealed that it takes an average of 476 days for disputes to be resolved in the commercial court in Kano.

It took an average of 447 days for similar matters to be resolved in Lagos but with the launch of the small claims court, all cases file are “expected to be heard and judgment delivered within a maximum period of 60 days, with a further 30 days for enforcement”.

Only one adjournment is allowed under exceptional circumstances, while magistrates are to hear matters daily to conclusion, and are enjoined to promote, encourage and facilitate negotiation among parties.

The court also encourages self-representation, and adhere to strict timelines for following key specified court events.

“We implore all small businesses to take advantage of the court and to tell more stakeholders about them. It can only be as efficient as we want it to be if we engage and use them,” said Oduwole, who is also the senior special assistant (SSA) industry, trade and investment to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Following the establishment of the small claims court in Lagos in April 2018, it is reported that 90 percent of judgments delivered from May to September 2018 were delivered within the 60-day timeline in compliance with the Lagos state magistrates’ practice directions on small claims.

This indicates substantial compliance in terms of timely disposition of matters.

The small claims court is regulated by the practice directions on small claims 2018 issued by the chief judge of Kano state pursuant to the magistrate court law of 2018.

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