Answer ... The issue of arbitrability is not codified in Nigeria, and neither the Arbitration and Conciliation Act nor the Lagos Arbitration Law lists disputes that are not arbitrable. The test has been stated to be whether the dispute can be settled lawfully by way of accord and satisfaction (United World Ltd Inc v MTS (1998) 10 NWLR (Pt 568)106). General legal opinion is that matters that impact on the legal status of an individual are not arbitrable. A number of decided cases have described certain disputes as non-arbitrable. For instance, in Kano State Urban Development Board v Fanz Construction Limited ((1990) 4 NWLR (Pt 142) 1 at page 33 paragraphs A – B) the Supreme Court listed the following as non-arbitrable in Nigeria:
- indictments for an offence of a public nature;
- disputes arising from an illegal contract;
- disputes arising from agreements that are void as being by way of gaming or wagering;
- disputes that lead to a change of status, such as divorce petitions; and
- any agreement purporting to give an arbitrator the right to give judgment in rem.
The Court of Appeal, in Shell (Nig) Exploration and Production Ltd v Federal Inland Revenue Service (Unreported Appeal CA/A/208/2012; delivered by the Court of Appeal, Abuja on 31 August 2016), stated that tax disputes are non-arbitrable. The decision has been appealed to the Supreme Court and is still pending.
Answer ... There are no restrictions on the choice of seat and the parties are at liberty to agree on the seat.