By Jude Igbanoi
The Nigerian arbitral community last Wednesday joined other jurisdictions which have put the new International Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Rules into operation.
Speaking at the launch of the 2012 ICC Rules of Arbitration which took place at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Chairman of International Chamber of Commerce Nigeria, ICCN, Mr. Babatunde Savage, told the gathering of arbitration practitioners that building a commercial arbitration friendly legal structure in the country would go a long way in supporting business development opportunities and attract foreign investors.
He said, ‘A nation focused on sustained economic prosperity and peace must encourage an equitable, transparent and fair governance architecture based on sound value system.
‘It is the desire of ICC globally to foster trade and investment across nations in an amicable, equitable and peaceful manner. In essence, ICC arbitration is one way to bridge the gap between investors or foreign companies and domestic entities by providing a neutral and independent mechanism for resolving disputes when they arise.
‘While international arbitration plays a role in reducing uncertainty in business dealings, governments can also contribute by improving the legal and regulatory climates in the country’.
At the plenary sessions, a panel of seasoned international arbitrators from different countries spoke on different aspects of the new rules, including its new innovations.
One of them, Mr. Sami Hourebi took participants through case management techniques, conferencing, decisions as to the costs of arbitration and many more.
Another panelist, Mr. Chikwendu Madumere, made a presentation on ‘Improving Time and Cost Efficiency in Arbitration, Case Management Techniques, Techniques for Controlling Cost, Fast Track Procedures, and many other innovations under the new rules.
Madumere’s presentation dealt with a crucial subject in arbitration: fast-track procedures. He pointed out that under Article 38 (1) of the New Rules, parties may agree to shorten the various time limits set out in the Rules.
‘Any such agreement entered into subsequent to the constitution of an arbitral tribunal shall become effective only upon the approval of the arbitral tribunal.
‘Fast-track procedures are designed to enable an arbitration to proceed quickly, given the specific nature of the contract and disputes that are likely to arise.
‘However, experience shows that in practice it is difficult at the time of drafting the clause to predict with a reasonable degree of certainty the nature of disputes and the procedures that will be suitable for those disputes.
‘Also, disagreements can arise later as to the interpretation or application of fast-track clauses, careful thought should therefore be given before such provisions are included in an arbitration agreement’.
In the third plenary session moderated by Mrs. Folashade Adetiba, panelists Mr. Jason Fry, Secretary-General of ICC Court, Paris and Chief Tony Idigbe SAN made presentations of Multi-party, Multi-contract Arbitration and Consolidation.
Their presentations focused on why ICC introduced the new rules, the drawbacks of the 1998 rules and the improvements in the 2012 rules being launched.
Mr. Fry pointed out that ‘The 1998 rules were designed on a very simple paradigm and arbitration has changed significantly in the past 12 years.
‘The simple concept of one contract, two parties has now been replaced by the concept of one contract, multiple parties and multi contracts.’
He also pointed out that the 1998 rules did not make provisions for joinder of parties and that additional parties could only be by court order, while the 2012 rules has provided for this extensively without the need of going through the courts.
Chief Idigbe SAN enumerated the vast improvements and expansion in the new rules, pointing out that the 2012 rules now allows up to 50 parties depending on the complexity of the project and the clauses.
Chairman of National Arbitration Commission ICC and Nigeria’s Representative at the ICC Court, Professor Gabriel Olawoyin, SAN, Mr. Simon Greenberg and Mrs. Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour, among others also presented papers at the launch.
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