Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL) was appointed as technical consultants to advise the Federal Government of Nigeria to develop a new National Arbitration Policy. The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN inaugurated the National Arbitration Policy Committee on 7th October 2020.
The Arbitration Policy Committee was necessitated by the fact that the practice of arbitration in Nigeria faced considerable challenges. The country has been at the receiving end, with outcomes of arbitral proceedings, impacting negatively on the country, as witnessed by the award of almost $10billion (Inclusive of 7% interest) against Nigeria to Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) by a London tribunal on 31st January, 2017.
The P&ID award and subsequent arbitration proceedings of about $1.5billion instituted against Nigeria at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, by Interocean Oil Exploration Company, raised concerns, leading to calls for a National Policy on Arbitration.
In response, the Attorney – General of the Federation, ABUBAKA MALAMI, SAN inaugurated a Committee with OAL, as technical consultants, to undertake a comprehensive review of laws and policies on arbitration in Nigeria and advice the Federal Government.
The Committee’s work adopts the UNCITRAL MODEL LAW but with adaptations to suit Nigeria’s peculiar Jurisdiction. Apart from proposing up to date arbitration legislation and a policy that ensures judicial support and non-interference for arbitration related cases, the Committee is considering proposing a policy shift in the following areas:
- Mandatory Seat- A Policy that makes it mandatory for arbitration of government contracts and domestic commercial transactions to be seated in Nigeria.
- Whether there is a need for a high level office such as a Minister/Senior Special Assistant to manage commercial disputes and investments?
- How to strengthen institutional arbitration in Nigeria especially the Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration Lagos
- A framework for sector specific arbitration that ensures the use of ADR to resolve specific sector based disputes.
- A framework to enhance, strengthen and streamline judicial intervention in arbitration cases.
OAL has led research on international best practice across leading Jurisdictions and emerging economies on the concept of seat and venue of domestic and international arbitration for private and government commercial transactions. OAL researched and developed concept papers on the legal framework for arbitration institutions and international standards for creating an enabling environment for international arbitration in Nigeria. As a result, OAL produced a Draft National Arbitration Policy Paper and a revised UNCITRAL MODELED Draft Arbitration and Mediation Amendment Bill. OAL also drafted an Executive Order to support the application of the new Arbitration Policy to make Nigeria a seat in respect of government contracts.
The work on the National Arbitration Bill and related matters will be presented to government in due course for consideration.