In furtherance of its mandate of revolutionising Nigeria as an arbitration friendly destination, the Lagos Court of Arbitration International Centre for Arbitration and ADR (ICAA) recently conveyed bench members of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to a two day workshop on alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The workshop which held in Abuja had the theme, “New Frontiers in Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms”.
The FCT High Court Judges ADR workshop comes third in the series of judicial engagements initiated by the Lagos Court of Arbitration (LCA). In 2013, the Lagos State High Court Judges went through a similar course aimed at deepening awareness of the role of the court and judges in arbitral processes. Since inception, the LCA has partnered with various arbitral institutions, local and international, to organise knowledge driven training and debates on topical issues in ADR. The workshop was delivered by the LCA in partnership with the Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa, the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP), JAMS Inc (Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services) and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK- Nigeria.
Reflective of this, the FCT High Court Judges workshop had a team of highly qualified arbitration experts—Chief Adebayo Ojo, SAN, CON, former Attorney General of Nigeria and Minister of Justice; Honourable Justice James Ware, retired Chief Judge of Northern District of California, USA; Mrs Funke Adekoya, SAN, Partner, AELEX Legal Practitioners and Council member of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration; Mrs Sola Adegbommeire, Chairperson, Chartered Institute of Arbitration UK, Nigeria Chapter Training Committee.
As consensus, participants at the event reinstated the symbiotic relationship that has always existed between ADR and the judiciary, and its fundamental role to Nigeria’s economy. To compliment the government’s efforts of creating an enabling environment to attract foreign investment, the judiciary have a duty to protect investors, validate contractual agreements and enforce arbitral awards.
Speaking during the focus scenario session, Justice Ware described ADR as the most sophisticated paraphernalia for settlement of international commercial disputes. Drawing on his multi-ethnic experience as a retired chief judge, lecturer and current serving neutral for JAMS, he said “there exists an undeniable link between ease of doing business in any country and a fair and functioning judiciary system.”
While touching on the functions of the Lagos Court of Arbitration and documented successes it has achieved thus far as Nigeria’s international ADR institution designed, and led by the private sector to position Africa on the global map as the preferred ADR seat, Ms Megha Joshi, Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer enjoined judges of the FCT High Court to sign into membership of the LCA. To support and promote ADR awareness and engagements, she disclosed that many judges all over the world find working as neutral a rewarding retirement plan.
Receptive to the workshop dialogue, the Lords pleaded their support to ADR development in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. The High Court of the FCT, Chief Judge, Ishaq U. Bello was recently inducted as a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Nigeria.