Answer ... Arbitration in Nigeria is regulated by:
- the federally enacted Arbitration and Conciliation Act, contained in Chapter A18 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (ACA), which started life as a decree promulgated by a military government in 1988 and is based on the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration; and
- the Arbitration Law of Lagos State No 55, Vol 42 of 2009, which was enacted by the Lagos State House of Assembly in 2009 and draws heavily on the 1996 Arbitration Act of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The arbitration regime under both laws is limited to written arbitration agreements. While the ACA is described, in its title, as “An Act to provide a unified legal frame work for the fair and efficient settlement of commercial disputes by arbitration and conciliation”, the only reference to commercial disputes in the body of the legislation is under the part making provision for international arbitration.
Answer ... The ACA contains provisions relating to both domestic and international arbitration. Part I applies to domestic arbitration, while Part III applies only to international commercial arbitration. The Lagos Arbitration Law makes no distinction between domestic and international arbitration. Although there is no definition of ‘domestic arbitration’ in the ACA, ‘international arbitration’ is defined in Section 57(2) as including the following:
- The parties to an arbitration agreement have, at the time of conclusion of the agreement, their places of business in different countries;
One of the following places is situated outside the country in which the parties have their places of business:
- the place of arbitration, if such place is determined in or pursuant to the arbitration agreement; or
- any place where a substantial part of the obligation of the commercial relationship is to be performed or the place with which the subject matter of the dispute is most closely connected;
- The parties have expressly agreed that the subject matter of the arbitration agreement relates to more than one country; or
- The parties, despite the nature of the contract, expressly agree that any dispute arising from the commercial transaction shall be treated as an international arbitration.
Answer ... The ACA is primarily based on the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. The 2006 amendments to the model law have yet to be incorporated; a bill that seeks to amend the ACA has been passed by the Senate of the National Assembly and is presently before the House of Representatives. Section 53 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act also refers to the adoption of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules in international arbitration agreements. The Lagos Arbitration Law incorporates relevant provisions from the 2006 UNCITRAL Model Law.
Answer ... All provisions of the ACA that relate to domestic arbitration are mandatory, including the procedural rules (the Arbitration Rules) contained in the First Schedule. The Arbitration Rules are optional for international commercial arbitration, with the parties at liberty to adopt any rules they wish. The Lagos Arbitration Law applies in Lagos State only to agreements where it is expressly indicated to be the applicable law. There have been suggestions that the Lagos Arbitration Law is invalid for being ultra vires the legislative powers of the Lagos State legislature, but there have been no judicial pronouncements on the issue.
Answer ... As indicated above, a bill seeking the repeal and re-enactment of the ACA was passed by the Senate on 1 February 2018 and passed its second reading in the House of Representatives on 12 April 2018.
Answer ... Yes, Nigeria is a signatory to the New York Convention. Nigeria acceded to the convention on 17 March 1970 and it came into force on 15 June 1970. The convention is set out in Schedule 2 to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, and is expressly incorporated into Nigerian law. In accordance with Article I(3) of the convention, Nigeria’s applicability of the convention is on the basis of reciprocity to the recognition and enforcement of awards made only in the territory of a member state to the convention and to disputes arising out of legal relationships, whether contractual or not, which are considered as commercial under Nigerian law.
Answer ... Nigeria is a signatory to various other treaties, such as the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes Convention and the Economic Community of West African States Energy Protocol. Nigeria has also entered into bilateral investment treaties with Finland, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Additionally, Nigeria has entered into investment promotion and protection agreements (IPPAs) with the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Romania, Morocco, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore and South Africa. The purpose of these IPPAs is to protect investments and to settle investment disputes through arbitration. Nigeria also entered into a treaty with the Asian African Legal Consultative Organisation on 26 April 1999, guaranteeing the continued operation of the Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, which was established in Lagos in 1989.