The Lagos State Judiciary has announced that, effective from April 1, 2024, all remote court or virtual proceedings will attract a fee of N30,000 (Thirty Thousand Naira Only) per session.

This directive was issued by the Honorable Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Olanrewaju Alogba, and communicated through a circular from the Office of the Chief Registrar, High Court of Lagos State.

According to the circular, all applications for virtual hearings must be made to the court hearing the matter. Upon approval, payment shall be made to the court, and the Assistant Chief Registrar (ACR) Litigation – Ikeja or Lagos, as appropriate, will schedule the case for hearing. The circular emphasizes that no other office or officer is authorized to conduct or schedule cases for virtual proceedings in the High and Magistrate Courts of Lagos State.

The First Hightower Infotech Ltd. (FHTI) will continue to provide internet access and service for the courts where they currently offer such services. Court Registrars are directed to ensure strict compliance with the circular and to give it the widest publicity it deserves.

Virtual court proceedings have become increasingly common in Nigeria, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a means to ensure the continuity of court operations while adhering to social distancing guidelines. The introduction of a fee for these services in Lagos State may be seen as a way to generate revenue for the judiciary and to cover the costs associated with providing the necessary technology and infrastructure.

Lagos State Judiciary

The move has sparked discussions among legal practitioners and the public, with some questioning the affordability and accessibility of virtual court proceedings for all parties involved. Others argue that the fee is reasonable, given the convenience and efficiency offered by remote hearings.

As the directive comes into effect, it remains to be seen how it will impact the administration of justice in Lagos State and whether other states will follow suit in introducing similar fees for virtual court sittings.

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