Folake Sadiq, Chairman, Young Members Group of the Charted Institute of Arbitrators, has urged Nigerians to embrace the alternative dispute resolution rather than the traditional court system.
Sadiq made the plea on Wednesday in Lagos at the 3rd Annual Conference and Gala Nite of CIArb in Lagos, entitled: “Young Arbitrators: Now and the Future.”
According to her, there are lots of advantages for arbitration: it cuts down the time, unlike with traditional court system, where you are bound by the availability of the judges.
She said: “One thing with arbitration is that the parties can come together and look at their diaries and look at when it is convenient for the dispute to be resolved and proceedings to be heard.
“So, it makes things faster; it is also cheaper in the long run because in certain cases you can have your dispute settled within three, six months or a year, instead of spending five to 10 years in court.”
Speaking on using arbitration to resolve issues instead of litigations, Sadiq said education was the major thing. “It is all-encompassing; it includes educating lawyers to let them know the advantages of alternative dispute resolution.
“Educating our judges in all the jurisdictions in Nigeria, not just in Lagos, going round and making judges know that arbitration and dispute resolution is not a challenge to the jurisdiction of their court.
“Rather it enhances it; it makes their process faster and it is beneficial. It can even help the economy; when you have a jurisdiction that encourages arbitration, lots of people will come to invest in the country.
“The judges, the lawyers, even our clients, the users, the common man on the streets should know that it is not everything you run to court for, there are other ways to settle the matter.
“We, as lawyers, have the responsibility, even non-lawyers, because arbitration is not just for lawyers has the responsibility to ensure that the populist is educated about an alternative form of dispute resolution.”
On the conference theme, Sadiq said: “It recognises where you are, and how arbitration affects young practitioners,” adding that there was a need for the arbitrators to prepare for our future and “recognises where we are today and where we are going”.
Also, Adedoyin Afun, Partner, Bloomfield Practice, who spoke on: “The P&ID case: Lesson for Now, Lesson for the Future,” advised the Federal Government to consider formulating a national arbitration policy.
According to Afun, a national arbitration policy will help to prevent judgment debts such as the type racked up in the PI& D scandal.
“The policy will boost Nigeria’s quest to be an arbitration hub; it will save jobs and boost foreign exchange,” Afun said.