Nigeria: An Analysis Of The Effect And Procedure For Service Of Court Processes Under Nigerian Law

Last Updated: 22 February 2016
Article by Fred-young Recoveries

Service of court processes goes to the jurisdiction of the Court to hear a matter. Parties must as a matter of law and practice ensure that the opposing party not only receives and acknowledge service of processes but also that the service effected is proper under Nigerian law. The power of an appellate Court to set aside the entire judgment of a lower court on the grounds of lack of proper service alone emphasizes the importance of proper service of processes in a legal proceeding.

It is therefore important to know who should effect service, what constitutes proper service on individuals, corporate entities and persons with legal disability, service outside the jurisdiction of a State, service of processes abroad, service of processes of foreign courts, service under the matrimonial causes rules and what constitute proper proof of service under Nigerian law.

Who should effect service of processes?

The Civil Procedure Rules of most States in Nigeria stipulates that service may be effected by a bailiff or other officer of court authorized by the court; a person appointed by a court to effect service; a solicitor who gives an undertaking to a Registrar receiving the process, at the time of filing, that he or his chamber shall serve the processes on the other party or his solicitor, and would also file a proof of the service effected; or service in accordance with an order of a Judge on the mode of service.

How is service effected on individuals?

Court processes are to be served on a party personally.

Nevertheless, where personal service on a party is not possible whether an attempt has been made or not, the other party may apply to court for an order to effect service by substituted means either by delivery of the processes with an adult at the last known address of the party; delivery of the processes to the agent of the party if there is reasonable probability that the processes will come to the knowledge of the party; advertisement in the Federal Gazette or in some newspaper circulating within the jurisdiction of the last known address of the party; notice at a principal court or public resort within the jurisdiction of the last known address of the party; email or any other scientific device; courier service or any other means convenient to the court.

How is service effected on companies?

Service on a company is effected by delivery of the processes at its corporate or registered office or serving its director, secretary or other principal officer of the company.

How is service effected on persons with legal liability?

Service on a prisoner is served on the superintendent or the head of the prison where the prisoner is kept.

Service on a lunatic is served on the superintendent or head of the asylum where the lunatic is kept.

Service on an infant is served on his father, guardian or any person whom the court may direct.

Service on a company in liquidation is served at the registered address of the company, liquidator or receiver as the case may be.

How is service effected outside jurisdiction of State?

A party who wishes to serve an application outside the jurisdiction of the court must bring an application before the court supported by an affidavit stating that it has a good case and the State or Country where the defendant is to be found.

Upon grant of the application, the writ to be served outside jurisdiction of a State will be endorsed thus;

"This summons is to be served out of ........State and in ..................State"

How is service effected abroad?

Upon obtaining an order for service of processes abroad, the party seeking service abroad will deliver the processes at the Court's registry stating whether it requires the processes to be served directly through diplomatic channels or through the foreign judicial authority. The documents to be served shall be under the seal of court for use out of jurisdiction and shall be forwarded to the Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs for transmission to the foreign country.

Nevertheless, service may be effected in accordance with a convention to which Nigeria is a member.

How is service of processes from a foreign court effected?

Service is effected by delivering the foreign process as indicated in the order of the foreign court for leave to serve the processes in Nigeria, to the person to be served with the processes and an affidavit of service transmitted to the foreign court as prima facie proof of service of the processes.

How is service effected under matrimonial causes rules?

Processes in matrimonial proceedings are served by a person other than a party to the proceedings but may be effected by that other person in the presence of a party. If it is impracticable for another person to effect service, a party may effect service and depose to an affidavit stating the circumstances which rendered it impracticable for another person to effect service.

Service may also be effected by serving the document on the person by post together with a form in accordance with Form 11 for acknowledging service of the document, a stamped envelope with the name of the person on whose behalf the document is being served, or the name of his legal practitioner and the address for service of that person. It may be sent as a letter to the person at the last address of the person.

Where it is impracticable to effect personal service, the court processes may be served by advertisement of the processes or by pasting them at the last known place address of the person.

What constitutes proper proof of service?

If the service is effected by a bailiff or other officer of the court, a completed acknowledgement form.

If effected by a solicitor, the acknowledgement of service attached to an affidavit of service.

If served by a courier company, the returned acknowledgements form.

Service on a prisoner or a lunatic is acknowledged by the head or superintendent of the prison or asylum.

Service on an infant is acknowledged by the father, guardian or any other person that received the process on behalf of the infant.

Service on a company is acknowledged by a director, secretary or other principal officer of the company.

In a matrimonial cause, if the processes were served by another person, the person shall deliver to the party proof of such service but if the person to whom service was effected refuses to acknowledge service, that other person who effected service will depose to an affidavit stating that the person refused to acknowledge service. Proper service by post shall not be deemed if the person to be served did not sign and return the acknowledgement of service form.

From the foregoing, it is clear that for service to be proper, it must be effected by the persons authorized by the rules of Court to effect service, effected in accordance with the rules of Court or other legislation regulating service of processes and there must proof that the service was effected in accordance with the procedure provided by law.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Fred-young Recoveries
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.