On 31st May 2022, the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Honourable Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip, PhD, made the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Filing of Applications/Motions in Trade Union Matters and Marking of Exhibits) Practice Directions (No. 1) 2022 (“the Practice Direction”), which came into force on 13th June 2022.
In its section 1, the Practice Direction sets out the guidelines to be adopted in (a) filing of applications and motions in trade union matters; and (b) marking of documents/exhibits. Section 4 thereof provides that the Practice Direction shall apply to all causes and matters in the NICN save to the extent as indicated on the Practice Direction or as otherwise directed by the President of the NICN. Section 2 remarkably provides that the Practice Direction is issued with a view to guarantee continued access to justice and expeditious disposal of cases. Whether the subsequent provisions of the Practice Direction align with this goal is a point to be reflected upon.
GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE PRACTICE DIRECTION
As stated above, the major provisions of the Practice Direction relates to the guidelines/procedure for (a) filing of applications and motions in trade union matters; and (b) marking of documents/exhibits. The provisions of the Practice Direction on these two items are appraised below.
Filing of Applications and Motions in Trade Union Matters
Section 3(1) of the Practice Direction provides as follows:
“From the date of this Practice Direction and notwithstanding any provisions in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017 in this regard, all forms of originating processes including applications and motions, particularly such that seek for order(s) to restrain the holding of delegates’ conference of a trade union or conduct of trade union elections, are to be filed either in Abuja or Lagos Judicial Division of the Court.”
With due respect to the draftsman, it is not clear what is intended on the face of the provision excerpted above. An attempt to interpret the said provision gives room for more than a few of controversies, some of which are highlighted below.
Read more: Reflections on NICN PD 2022