The African Bar Association has described the bill seeking to establish a Commission to regulate alternative dispute resolution in Nigeria as “retrogressive”.
The lawyers said, in a statement, that the intention to regulate ADR practice in Nigeria by a compulsory accreditation would limit practitioners from other jurisdiction.
“As stakeholders and key sector participants, AFBA finds this bill retrogressive and ill advised,” Obele Akinniranye, the Deputy General Secretary, AFDB, said in the statement.
“AFBA has consulted with a wide range of professional bodies and civil society organizations and the unanimous position is that this bill does not serve the interest of ADR in Nigeria or Africa at large and will send wrong signals to other countries (especially African countries) about Nigerians’ seriousness in advancing the progress made so far in making Nigeria a leading investment destination in line with the governments declared transformation agenda.
“It is the position of the African Bar Association that the said bill ought not to be passed into law.”
Last month, the Senate held a Public Hearing for a Bill for the Establishment of a National Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulatory Commission.
The bill seeks to regulate alternative dispute resolution bodies and institutions, develop an alternative dispute resolution policy for Nigeria, and maintain records of alternative resolution bodies and institutions.
It also seeks to set and regulate standards of alternative dispute resolution institutions as well as organize local and international conferences, seminars, and workshops for practitioners and users.
The AFBA noted that the bill flows against the intentions of the founding objectives of the African Union (AU) and offends the AU’s treaty obligation to which Nigeria is a signatory.
“The AU’s directive principles include the encouragement of member states to promote legislation that consolidates the gains from increased integration of member African states through uniform and progressive regulations,” said Mrs. Akinniranye.
“AFBA objects to the bill because it limits Non Nigerian ADR Practitioners from practising in Nigeria because of stringent entry level requirements.”
The group also said that the bill, if passed into law, would encourage government interference in Private Dispute Resolution, adding that it would also increase red tape and government expenditure.
“This will imply increased bureaucracy and waste of limited government funds,” Mrs. Akinniranye said.
“AFBA is not in support of any legislation that serves to defeat its fundamental objective of enhancing the degree of integration amongst African States and reducing government interference in established policies and regulations that aid cross border practice of arbitral processes.”