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Background:
Recently, the National Industrial Court of
Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017 “the Rules” replaced the National
Industrial Court Rules 2007 and the Practice Direction 2012, which previously
guided procedures in the National Industrial Court. With the new Rules, the
National Industrial Court “the Court” aims to improve the administration of
justice in its proceedings. In line with this objective, the Rules incorporate
new provisions considered below.

Fast-Track
Proceedings
In keeping with the aim of achieving
quicker dispensation of justice, Fast-track proceedings have been introduced
into the Rules. Order 25 of the Rules lists the qualities required for a matter
to be placed on the Fast-track and the procedures after such placement.
However, the majority of the types of cases which qualify for Fast-track
proceedings seem to be those touching on public interest.
Deceased
Employees (Testate & Intestate)
Under the Rules, a distinction is made
between those who died testate(leaving a valid will) and those who died
intestate (without a will). For the former, the filing of any process relating
to their entitlements would attract only 25% of the filing fees. For the
latter, no discount is given. Rather, kinship would have to be proved by the
dependants. Consequently, it will be wise for employees (especially in
high-risk jobs) to draft their wills so as not to aggravate any disputes in
case of their demise. Note that an employee’s dependant may commence an action
at the Court for compensation on any matter relating to death, injury, illness
or disease that occurs in the course of the employee’s employment.
This action may be commenced at the Court
in so far as an appeal has not been filed to the Board implementing the
Employee’s Compensation Act, 2010.
Limitation
on Media Coverage of Court Proceedings
The Rules limit media coverage of the
Court’s proceedings to only matters of national importance as allowed by the
presiding Judge or the President of the Court. Legal practitioners are
prohibited from granting any press interview or making comments on any matter
which is still before the Court. These provisions are geared towards protecting
parties in cases before the Court in view of the usually sensitive nature of
the disputes.
Introduction
of Pre-Trial Conference
To promote amicable settlement of disputes,
the use of pre-trial conferences has been added to the procedural requirements
in the Court. Pre-trial proceedings can be initiated suo motu by the Court or
by any of the parties. Other Innovations: Electronic filing of processes,
Promotion of the adoption of ADR, Guidelines for sexual harassment/ Workplace
discrimination claims.
Hopefully, these new provisions will be
implemented optimally to meet their raison d’etre.
This article is written by Dayo Adu –
Partner @ Famsville Solicitors
Ed’s Note – This article was first posted
here