CIArb calls for innovations in Alternative Dispute Resolution

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Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK (Nigeria Branch) has called for innovations to improve the access to Justice through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Nigeria.

This was contained in a communique issued after its Annual Conference held at Jogor Centre, Ibadan, where over 600 delegates and about 50 speakers across the world participated both physically and virtually.

The Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde declared the conference which has its theme
as ‘Future perfect: Securing Africa’s ascent on the global ADR stage’ open and the keynote address was delivered by the Hon Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN

The communique stated that there was the need to inject innovations to improve access to justice through the use of ADR in Nigeria, as investors want alternative dispute resolution methods that are efficient and affordable to protect disputes arising from their investment in Africa.

The use of ADR will also help to reduce the burden on the courts and improve justice delivery, especially for domestic and international commercial disputes.

“There is a general misconception about what arbitration and ADR are by parties and Counsel. The CIArb Nigeria Branch should adopt strategies to develop awareness and advocacy on the general use of ADR by disputants.

“There must be punitive costs on parties that resort to litigation after they have decided to submit their disputes to arbitration via their arbitration clause. Parties who head to court rather than following the dispute resolution clause should be sanctioned for not respecting the sanctity of the arbitration clause mutually entered into by parties.

“The CIArb Nigeria Branch should drive the narrative on ADR in Africa because Africa’s size, geography, and demographics
is a major advantage for the continent. However, the major obstacle that stands in the country’s way is the refusal of ADR practitioners and users to retain their dispute resolution on the continent and appoint African practitioners.

Confidentiality which is one of the hallmarks of arbitration and arbitral tribunals must ensure data privacy especially as sensitive information could be given during the hearings, the arbitrators in such disputes must ensure that such information is protected and kept confidential.

“Arbitrators must ensure data protection, retention, and destruction; identify confidential data and utilize platforms that will ensure the protection of such data. An arbitrator needs to be aware of the necessary data protection laws and its applications to avoid personal liability and misconduct,”

“An Investment Protocol under AfCFTA will provide common protections for investors across all African countries and provide a means of redress for settling disputes amongst private parties. It will ensure greater certainty of investor protection as “Investment” will have the same meaning across, Africa.
“There should be diversity in the constitution of the arbitral tribunal and appointment of an arbitral secretary to ensure an all-inclusive tribunal that represents diversity such as gender, age, ethnicity, geography, and similar criteria.

“The risk of cyberhacking and mishandling of confidential information is very real said the statement and Arbitral Institutions must invest in the protection of critical information supplied by parties. Overall, the CIArb Nigeria conference concluded with the final submission that the future is bright for the continent and Nigeria will take her place on the global ADR stage.

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