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CIArb advocates reform of arbitration laws, NICArb holds investiture

By Kelvin Ebiri (South-South Bureau chief) |   15 November 2016   |   3:41 am  

Sir Celestine Omehia, former Governor of Rivers State (left); Mrs. Oyinkan Badejo-Okusanya, Chair 2016 CIArb Nigeria Branch Conference Planning Committee; Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, deputy governor of Rivers State; Governor Nyesom Wike; Mrs. Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour, Branch Chair, CIArb Nigeria Branch; Hon. Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra, Chief Judge of Rivers State; Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) and Mr. Emmanuel Aguma (SAN), the attorney-general & commissioner for justice, Rivers State.

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) Nigeria Branch, has canvassed for the reform of the Nigeria arbitration laws in line with international best practices.

The institute said existing Arbitration and Conciliation Act, which is a modified version of the 1985 UN CIRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration and which includes as a schedule in the 1976 UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules is now outdated.

The national president of the institute, Mrs. Adedoyin Rhodes- Vivour, made the call for the reform of the arbitration laws at the 2016 CIArb annual conference in Port Harcourt, River State, with the theme: “Exploring New Frontiers in Arbitration and ADR.”

Rhodes- Vivour explained that while Nigeria was the first country in Africa to adopt the UNCITRAL Model Law, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act is not a modern arbitration law. She said that since it was passed, the UNCITRAL Model Law and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules have been amended to take account of modern developments.

“Sadly the Arbitration Act is yet to be amended in line with 2006 Amendments to the UNCITRAL Model Law and UNCITRAL, Arbitration Rules as revised in 2010. The 1914 Ordinance-based law also remains on the statute books of various states in Nigeria. If Nigeria is to take its rightful place as not only a preferred scat of arbitration but an investor-friendly country, it is imperative that the legislative regime for arbitration in Nigeria be in line with the latest developments in the international arbitration legal framework,” she said.

Rhodes- Vivour said a modern arbitration law should include provisions on multiple parties, consolidation of proceedings, concurrent hearings, emergency arbitrator proceedings, enforcement of interim measures/procedural orders, enable a more effective framework in terms of speed and efficacy of enforcing arbitral awards and avoiding delays in arbitration applications before the court.

She further stressed that modern arbitration law ought to take cognisance of modern formats of entering into agreements such as emails and other modern means of communication. She said the good news is the step taken by Lagos State to enact the 2009 Lagos State Arbitration Law, a law premised on the 2006 amendments to the UNCITRAL Model Law.

“It is long overdue for Nigeria to conduct a comprehensive review of all legislations, which impacts negatively on Nigeria’s attractiveness as an arbitration seat. Developing Nigeria into a favoured place for arbitration will enhance our country’s growth and economic development. A few years back, no Asian country was considered internationally as a place of arbitration” said Rhodes- Vivour.

CIArb, together with all stakeholders and the three arms of government, she insisted, must rise up to the challenge of ensuring a conducive environment for the practice of arbitration in Nigeria and the development of Nigeria as a preferred venue for arbitration.

Rhodes- Vivour explained that the 2016 Annual conference was designed to be intellectually stimulating due to the fact that these are turbulent times for the oil and gas industry. As a result of this, she said the institute deemed it necessary to bring to the fore how effective and expeditious dispute resolution will assist in assuaging the effects of the downturn in the oil market.

“Indeed terrorism and insurgency threats abound worldwide and further depict the growing level of conflicts in human society. Our mission is the global promotion of the resolution of disputes through mechanisms outside the court system, which is alternative dispute resolution (ADR). We recognize the need to evolve and position ourselves in-line with present day challenges and developments” she said.

She added that the Institute will remain committed to developing a learned society of alternative dispute resolvers.

In a similar development, the Nigerian Institute of Arbitrators (NICArb) said it would on November 18, hold the 2016 edition of its annual investiture and award. Vice-President of the Institute, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), said NICArb in line with its commitment to popularise the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the country, would use the event to fashion out strategies to beat the current economic challenges through ADR.

The investiture with the theme, ‘International investment transactions and dispute resolution – promoting ADR in Nigeria,’ would hold at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Scheduled to speak at the event are the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Nike Akande, and the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside.

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