13 Jun 2023
In a momentous step for dispute resolution in Nigeria, the Arbitration and Mediation Act (“the AMA”) gained assent on 26 May 2023. The AMA reforms Nigeria’s legislation on dispute resolution, bringing its legislative framework for enforcing arbitration agreements in line with the New York Convention.
The process to reform Nigeria’s legislation began in 2005 with the formation of the National Committee on the Reform and Harmonisation of Arbitration and ADR (alternative dispute resolution) Laws in Nigeria. It was named the “Orojo Committee” after the group Chair, Dr J. Olakunle Orojo FCIArb.
Recognition must go to members of Ciarb Nigeria Branch who were heavily involved with the passage of the Arbitration and Mediation Bill. The Orojo Committee involved 13 Ciarb members, including the former Branch Chair, Mrs Adeyoin Rhodes-Vivour C.Arb FCIArb and the current Vice Chair, Professor Paul Idornigie C.Arb FCIArb. A further 23 Ciarb members were part of the ACA Committee, including Mrs Rhodes-Vivour and Professor Idornigie, and Branch Committee Members Mrs Miannaya Essien C.Arb FCIArb, Mr Seyilayo Ojo C.Arb FCIArb and Mrs Olusola Adegbonmire C.Arb FCIArb. Furthermore, the Chair of Ciarb Nigeria Branch, Chief James Akinola C.Arb FCIArb, provided an immense contribution which aided the passage of the Arbitration and Mediation Bill.
Ciarb Nigeria Branch Vice Chair, Prof Paul Obo Idornigie C.Arb FCIArb, was a member of the Committee that drafted the first Bill in 2006, the second Bill in 2017 and the third and final Bill in 2019. Paul says, “It is a monumental milestone in resolving commercial disputes in Nigeria. Like Hong Kong and Singapore, Nigeria now has third-party funding provisions. The Act adopts the Singapore Convention and the UNCITRAL Model Law on Commercial Mediation. It also has provisions on Emergency Arbitrators, interim measures of protection by Courts as well as recognition and enforcement of interim orders made by a Tribunal, abolition of torts of maintenance and champerty in respect of arbitral proceedings, lien on final awards pending full payment of arbitrators’ fees and institutions’ expenses by the parties; and review of the final arbitral award by an Award Review Tribunal in the first instance before resort to court."
Catherine Dixon, Ciarb Director General, says, “This is a significant development for Nigeria and the dispute resolution sector as a whole. By enacting the AMA, Nigeria joins Singapore and Hong Kong in expressly providing for third-party funding, contributing to its attractiveness as a hub for dispute resolution in Africa. I congratulate the many Ciarb Nigeria Branch members who have worked tirelessly over the past 18 years to effect this important change.”
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