The Small Claims Court system has been in operation since the 12th Century in England. In England and Wales, cases placed on the small claims track at the county Court include Claims in which the financial value is less than £10,000 (equivalent of N5,000,000) and cases involving personal injuries or disputes between landlords and tenants where the amount involved does not exceed £1,000 (equivalent of N500,000).
The concept of the Small Claims Court has over the years developed into a standard global practice in the United States of America, Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and other countries. Whilst there are manifest similarities in the practices and procedures applicable in many jurisdictions across the globe, there exist also differences caused by the local peculiarities and national aspirations.
Doing business in Nigeria is not an easy task. Businessmen are faced with harsh operating conditions, including lack of access to power supply, multiplicity of taxes, inefficient dispute resolution, etc. And a business owner who is thinking of recovering debts, the thoughts of going through a lengthy court trial would definitely discourage him or her. Also court trials are known to be expensive, rigid and unpredictable. Court adjournments, trials, technicalities and other unforeseen circumstances could prolong a simple case and make it last for two or three years. This is the reason why many business people shun the courts in their bid to enforce business contracts, most especially if the monetary sum involved is not so much as they would consider going to court for. Many business people because of this have inadvertently forgiven their debtors and moved on, while others have had to resort to primitive ways of conflict resolution. For example, some business people have been known to facilitate the police to arrest their debtors by cajoling the people to add a criminality flavor into a civil matter and they may succeed in forcing the debtor to succumb to their demands. The debtor for fear of being prosecuted quickly pays off the debt.
To address amongst others these rigid bottlenecks in doing businesses in Nigeria, the President Muhammadu Buhari set up the Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC), in July 2016, operating under the Office of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, to address the complex or rigid bottlenecks in doing businesses in Nigeria.
The aim of PEBEC is to ease business transactions for accelerated development and as such, the council introduced the specialized Small Claims Commercial Courts, with Lagos and Kano States chosen to pilot the initiative.
In pursuance of the same mandate, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Committee in collaboration with the Bayelsa State government provided technical assistance and support in the establishment of four pilot small claims courts in the State. Predicated on that the Bayelsa State judiciary on January 05, 2023, inaugurated a five-member management committee to administer the Small Claims Courts for recovery of debts not exceeding N5million in the state.
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD
The inaugurated members of the Management Committee for the Management of the small claims courts are; Justice Timipre Songi (Chairman) Ebiere Tarra Empere-Ugwa(Secretary) Florizel Obiri(Member), Justina Daniel(Member) and Kelvin Amanawa(Member).
Ms Abise Theophilus, The Deputy Chief Registrar (Litigation and Small claims) High Court is in charge of the Small Claims Court.
LOCATION OF THE REGISTRY
The Registry of the Bayelsa State Small Claims Court is located at Hon. Justice K. D. Ungbuku High Court Complex Onopa.
Ojoko Dikuro Esq
Buseri Doubara Ikuromo Esq
Avoh Sarah Benjamin Esq
Ekeru Stanley Esq
REGISTRAR OF COURT
Mrs. Evelyn Urowu
LOCATION OF THE COURT HALLS
The Small Claims Court halls are located at:
The Multi-door Court Complex, Ovom and
The High Court Complex, Ovom
The aim of establishing the Small Claims Court in Bayelsa State is to provide easy access to an informal, inexpensive and speedy resolution of debt recovery disputes by business persons and other residents in the State.
Litigants do not have to hire a lawyer to approach the special courts as litigants are allowed to represent themselves.
For more information and direction on the activities of the Small Claims Court in Bayelsa State, please contact the Registrar on;