The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIarb.) completed the cycle of establishment of its tripodal geo-political presence in Nigeria since it officially berthed in the country some exactly 20 years ago, with the inauguration of the Ibadan chapter on Wednesday, last week.
The launch of the new cell in the Oyo State capital city, regarded as the political headquarters of the West, came after those of Abuja in the North and Port Harcourt in the East. Before these, the Nigerian branch of the international professional, founded in the United Kingdom in 1915, had operated from Lagos, which lost the status after the nation’s capital moved to Abuja.
Prince Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi (SAN), is to lead the 15-member executive of the new chapter. The oath of office was administered by the National Chairman, Mrs. Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour.
The institute is a multi-disciplinary professional body for training and examination those seeking to qualify as arbitrators, mediators and other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioners, with a world- wide membership of 16,000 in 39 branches located in 133 countries. The Nigerian branch membership numbered 2,000 and cut across insurance, banking law, construction, shipping, accounting, oil and gas and entertainment industry.
Rhodes-Vivour said the Nigerian branch was a force to reckon with particularly in Africa where its members’ services were in high demand. She charged the new chapter to raise the bar in promoting its status and professional training and examination of students.
In his inauguration speech, Fagbemi said: “The major task before this pioneer executive committee is that of laying a solid foundation for this chapter. It is the task of preparing the ground, so that those coming after us can have a viable seed to water, thereby allowing our dreams of a world class arbitration centre nurtured to maturity.
“It shall vigorously pursue the acquisition of a building to serve as a training and a dispute resolution centre. This is in addition to engaging in an intense membership drive in order to increase our membership base so that Ibadan can continue to remain a pace setter, even within the arbitration space.”
He urged parties to disputes to embrace arbitration and ADR as a first line action before seeking redress in court, as according to him, this has a lot of benefits not only to the disputants, but the legal system and society. Specifically, he said, taking advantage of the option would not only save prospective litigants prohibitive cost and time that would otherwise be wasted on prolonged law suits, but also ensure mutual satisfaction and continued harmonious relationship among the parties.
He called on state judiciary especially in Oyo, Osun Ondo and Ekiti to facilitate this by taking a cue from Lagos State, which, he said, had “raised the bar” with its new high court civil procedure rules (2019), which in its pre-action protocol, practice direction number 2 makes attempt at amicable resolution via Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mandatory before parties file action in court.
Mr. Olatunde Busari (SAN), Vice Chairman of the Nigeria branch, counselled business partners and parties to business ventures/projects to always insert arbitration clause in the terms of the contract in order to benefit from this peaceful mechanism in case of future dispute. He underscored the benefits of arbitration to include parties’ agreement in the choice arbitrators who presided over their cases and gave awards that are enforceable and binding on the disputants, due to trust in his integrity and impartiality.