On Whether Telephone Message/Call is Proper Mode of Serving Hearing Notice

Moruff O. Balogun, Esq.

Compact Manifold & Energy Services Ltd. V. Pazan Services Nigeria Ltd. (2020)1NWLR PT. 1704 PAGE 76-77.

SUMMARY OF THE FACTS: At the Supreme court,the substratum of the appellant’s case was that the mode of service (telephone message/call) of the hearing notice on it did not conform with the provisions of the rules of court and that it led to a breach of its right to fair hearing.

HELD : Unanimously dismissing the appeal.

ABBA AJI J.S.C stated as follows:
“By virtue of Order 2 Rule(c)(i) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2013, service of hearing notice by telephone call would ordinarily be good service so long as the party is provided the notice at least 48 hours before the scheduled court date. The regularity of service is no longer jettisoned because it was made electronically as the current rules of court have ensured. The essence of a hearing notice is to bring to the notice of the party that his matter will come on the date named in the notice of hearing. When the rules use the words hearing notice. It did not specify that it must be hard copy. This is the 21st century and technology is ruling every aspect of human endeavour and therefore even courts must be abreast of the technological advancement and be ready to absorb the aspects that will engage the quality of justice and aid speedy determination of cases. The courts have also moved on in that regard. Electronic service has taken root in the Nigerian legal system and it would be strange for anybody to frown at being served electronically. The court can direct that a party be informed by text message. The court has a discretion to direct the notification in a particular way. Issuance of a hard copy hearing notice is not a requirement of law and failure to issue and serve same cannot offend the rules of fair hearing. More so, it is not in all cases that the absence of it will automatically vitiate trials in the context of section 36 of 1999 constitution. A hearing notice is not therefore a mandatory judicial process that must be issued and served in all cases. The requirement is a rule of the court, not a statutory requirement. Rules of court are to aid the court in adjudication of cases. It is not to arm-twist the court into becoming a robot. In the instant case, it was on record that the appellant was served or informed of the hearing date of 15/3/2016 via telephone text message. The Evidence Act has now taken notice of the technology age in that electronic evidence is now admissible”.

Moruff O. Balogun, Esq.
Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.


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