Lawyers advocate use of electronic evidence
As information and communications technology continues to have widespread impacts in everyday dealings, lawyers say it is time that the courts became more open-minded and welcoming of electronic evidence, particularly in the resolution of technology-related disputes.
This call was made at a recent three-day workshop on “Oral Advocacy and Electronic Evidence,” organised by the by Attorney General Alliance/ Africa Alliance Partnership in conjunction with the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors.
The Director General of NIALS, Prof Muhammed Ladan, said the mastery of the concept of electronic evidence had become a sine qua non for effective modern-day courtroom advocacy.
Ladan said it was a knowledge that practising lawyers must now equip themselves with.
“From 2011 till date, we have nothing less than 40 cases decided where pieces of evidence electronically-generated have been admitted.
“I think the trend on the part of our judiciary is understanding the need to attach weight because you can prepare as a lawyer and you can actually meet all the requirements, but the big question that follows the admissibility of such piece of evidence is the question that comes from the judges: What weight do I attach to this piece of evidence electronically-generated and why should I attach weight to it in the first instance?” Ladan noted.
The law professor admonished lawyers to always ensure compliance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act, which demands that electronic evidence must be credible and reliable to be fit for admissibility.
A board member of the AGA/AAP, Markus Green, said the body organised the workshop to help sharpen Nigerian lawyers’ skills in oral advocacy and use of electronic evidence because the two skills were essential in modern-day courtroom practice.
“An effective and efficient administration of justice is what we are trying to get to; we want a fair, functioning judiciary; a judicial system that works for everyone, and the ability to process, to understand electronic evidence, to understand the technologies that exist to process electronic evidence.
“Another part of the training is oral advocacy, understanding the need for lawyers to be able to stand and make a cohesive clear and concise argument to judges and advocate for their client,” Green said.
Senior Partner, Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), said the law firm partnered AGA/AAP to organise periodic training for Nigerian lawyers towards the overall improvement of the Nigerian justice sector.