Legal documents without stamp and seal improper, says Supreme Court



The Supreme Court has explained that processes that do not have a legal practitioners’ stamp and seal is improper.

In the lead judgment of the Court delivered by JusticeNwali Sylvester Ngwuta, the apex court held that such a process even though signed and filed is not null and void or incompetent but that such a document even though signed and filed is not proper in law for the reason that the condition precedent for its proper signing and filing has not been met.

The court also held that such a document is ‘akin to a legal document or process filed at the expiration of the time allowed by the rules or extended by the court’.

Particularly, Justice Ngwuta held that ‘in such cases, the filing of the process can be regularised by extension of time and deeming order. “In the case at hand, the process filed in breach of Rule 10(1) can be saved and it’s signing and filing regularised by affixing the approved seal and stamp on it. It is a legal document improperly filed and the fixing of the stamp and seal would make the filing proper in law.

“Since this was not done the court cannot take cognizance of a document not properly filed and the filing not regularized”, the court held.

In a concurring judgment, Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi held thus:“The refusal of the document by the registry is a sanction in itself and pending proper signature and affixing of stamp/seal as required by Rule 10(1). The breach of the rule in my opinion should not be viewed as a substantive infraction but a mere irregularity which can be remedied”.

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