Service of Originating Processes on Corporate Entities in Nigeria: Imperative for a Review by the Supreme Court of its Extant Decisions on the Point

F.J Oniekoro, M.E Jemialu


One of the time honoured pillars upon which rest the concept of Justice is encapsulated in the Latin maxim, “audi alteram partem” which translated, simply means “hear the other part.[1] Therefore, the adverse party must be put on notice in order for jurisdiction to properly vest on the court and this requirement is a condition precedent that must be fulfilled. The valid issuance and service of originating processes therefore are mandatory conditions for the assumption of jurisdiction by a court over any matter brought before it[2]. In Nigeria, service of originating processes on corporate entities is essentially determined by the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act and the applicable Rules of court. Consequently, the correct and proper interpretation of these Rules of Court cannot be over-emphasised. This effort is directed at showing the need for a reconsideration of the construction given by the Supreme Court on the Rules of various High Courts on service of originating processes on corporate entities. We conclude by asserting that except specifically provided for in any Rules of court, there is no justification for insisting that originating processes cannot be served via substituted  means where personal service proves impossible or that such processes can only be effected on a company or corporation at its Registered or Head Office.

* F.J Oniekoro, LLM, BL. Deputy Director (Academics) and Principal Lecturer (Property Law Practice),  and Co-ordinator, Law in Practice, Nigerian Law School, Augustine Nnamani Campus, Agbani, Enugu. E-Mail;

*M.E Jemialu (Mrs), LLM, B.L, Lecturer, Nigerian Law School, Headquarters, Bwari, Abuja, E-mail-

[1] Aina Blankson, notes on “Mark V. Eke (2005) 5 N.W.L.R. (Part 865) Page 54, Service Of Court Processes On A Company” , 2011,  Lagos, in the newsletter “The  Brief”  a Publication Of The Dispute Resolution Group.

[2] Uwah Printers (Nig.) Ltd & Anor. V. Umoren  (2000) 15 NWLR (Part 689) 78 where the court held that “where service of process is required, failure to serve is a fundamental vice and the person affected by the Order but not served with the process is entitled ex-debito justitiae to have the Order set aside as a nullity. Such an Order of nullity becomes a necessity because due service of process is a condition sine qua non to the hearing of any suit”.

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