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Institute expresses optimism over passage of arbitration law

By Joseph Onyekwere
07 November 2017   |   1:49 am
The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Nigeria branch, has expressed optimism that the Arbitration and Conciliation amendment bill would soon be passed into law by the National Assembly.

Lagos Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Mr. Adeniji Kazeem‎

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Nigeria branch, has expressed optimism that the Arbitration and Conciliation amendment bill would soon be passed into law by the National Assembly.

Chairman of the Institute, Mrs. Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour said the new bill, if passed into law would remove from Nigeria’s statute books the current Act based on the 1985 United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) model law and the 1976 arbitration rules.

According to her, the new act would be based on 2006 UNCITRAL model law and the 2010 UNCITRAL arbitration rules.“It would bring Nigeria into the realm of countries with an up to date legal framework. We commend Lagos State, which as far back as 2009 passed the Lagos State Arbitration Law, the most up to date arbitration law in Nigeria based on the 2006 UNCITRAL model law,” she explained.

Rhodes-Vivour who made the statement in his welcome address at the 17th annual conference of the Institute in Lagos with the theme: “Strengthening the building blocks of Arbitration in Africa” said the aim of the arbitral community is to ensure that Nigeria has a modern arbitration law which will stand it in good stead to attract international investors and emerge as a favoured place of arbitration.

Lagos state attorney general and commissioner for justice, Adeniji Kazeem said apart from all that the state has done in order to improve alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, the state is embarking on upgrading the infrastructure so as to make Lagos arbitration hub for African sub region.

His words: “Akinwunmi Ambode has massively invested in security. Right now we are in the process of deploying CCTV camera all over the state. We will have the command and control centre where this CCTV fit into. Right now we are trying to build an optic network around the state that is going to make broadband accessible to every home and offices, all over the state. Of course, you can imagine what that means for something like arbitration when you have cheap and easy broadband. You talk about conducting proceedings remotely, people can be in other states and give evidence via broadband or via video link. That is some of the things we are dealing with.”

A speaker from Ghana, Ace Ankomah said arbitration is getting deepened in Nigeria. He noted that it would be good to have statutes providing for mandatory arbitration in certain matters.

“Our laws must begin to provide that certain disputes must go for arbitration. By then, there will be statutory, mandatory arbitration. The statute will provide procedures for resolving a dispute, such that you cannot go to court unless arbitration failed,” he said.Partner, White and Case LLP, United Kingdom, Mr. Robert Wheal said one of the advantages of arbitration is that of confidentiality.

“It is a private process and the award isn’t published. You can’t get jury proceedings that way. In England, I don’t know if it is the same in Nigeria, sometime if there is challenge in an award, you do get a little bit of a light shine off the award. But it is good with the certainty that there is a mechanism where your award will be held up there,” he stated.

Managing director of Grace Infotech, publishers of law pavilion, Ope Olugasa urged lawyers to embrace technology in their arbitral activities, warning that artificial intelligence would soon revolutionalise the Information Technology industry and become inevitable for all those doing business in the 21st century.