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Despite the pressure of globalization, the Nigerian Government is responsible of ensuring that businesses in Nigeria remain competitive. This informed the need for the Government to put in place frameworks to enhance the ability of local companies to exploit local opportunities while staying competitive globally. This is the essence of local content legislations in some sectors. The local content provisions in some sectors include;
(a) Information and Communications Technology
The National Information Technology Development Agency (“NITDA”) in 2013 released guidelines on Nigerian content development in information and communication technology. According to the guidelines, ICT companies in Nigeria are to maintain 50% (fifty percent) local content either directly or by outsourcing to local businesses to encourage Nigerian representation and participation in the sector.
(b) Oil and gas
The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (“NOGICDA“) which established the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (“the Board“) was enacted in 2010. The purpose of the Act is to create the framework for growth of Nigerian content in respect of all operations and transactions in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Sector (“the sector“). The Act which defines a Nigerian Company to mean a Company registered in Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of the CAMA with not less than 51% (fifty-one percent) equity shares owned by Nigerians mandates investors in the sector to consider Nigerian content as an important element in their project development and management philosophy. The Act provides that subject to fulfillment of the conditions that may be specified, Nigerian operators and indigenous service companies shall be given first consideration in award of oil blocks, licenses and works in the sector. Consequently, the Board is empowered to execute its duties under the Act as well as ensure that the provisions of the Act are compiled with by stakeholders in the sector.
In Lagos at least 15% (fifteen) of shares in predominantly foreign owned gaming licence applicants must be held by Nigerians.
The Architect (Registration, etc.) Act provides that it is only Nigerian citizens that will be registered to practice architecture in Nigeria. Nevertheless, a foreign architect who satisfies the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria that there exist a reciprocal arrangement of registration of architect between his country and Nigeria may be registered by the Council. Also, a foreign architect who does not qualify for registration in Nigeria may be registered by the Council if he is employed in Nigeria as a foreign technical assistance or foreign technical aid program or under a contract with the Federal Government or Government of any State of the Federation.
No person can carry on any banking business in Nigeria except it is duly incorporated in Nigeria and holds a valid banking licence. Again, no foreign bank can operate a branch in Nigeria without prior approval of the CBN. However, CBN may grant licence to Nigerian and foreign banks to undertake off-shore banking business from Nigeria.
The Civil Aviation Authority shall not grant an aviation permit, certificate or other authorization to a person who is not a Nigerian citizen or a company registered in Nigeria.
It is only vessels wholly owned and operated by Nigerians, built and registered in Nigeria that can engage in domestic coastal carriage of cargo and passenger within the coastal territorial inland waters or any point with the exclusive economic zone of Nigeria restricts the use of foreign-owned or manned vessels for coastal trade in Nigeria. Consequently, a vessel which is not owned by a Nigerian citizen shall not carry any substance whatsoever or dredge any material within Nigerian waters. However, a foreign vessel may render assistance to persons, vessels or aircraft in danger or distress in Nigerian waters.
The Broadcasting Commission shall only grant a licence if it is satisfied that the applicant is a company registered in Nigeria with majority shares owned by Nigerians. The applicant must also demonstrate that it is not applying on behalf of any foreign interest.
A person shall be registered and practice as a Pharmacist if he is a Nigerian citizen. Nevertheless, a person who is not a citizen of Nigeria may be registered as a Pharmacist if he is a citizen of a country with reciprocal registration facilities to Nigerian citizens.
A non-Nigerian who satisfies the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria that he has been employed for a specific period in a capacity as an engineer and will be in Nigeria temporarily for the purpose of the employment or that he has qualification outside Nigeria which is acceptable to the Council may be registered as an engineer in Nigeria. A company engaged in engineering services must be registered with the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria. To do engineering business, the company must have Nigerian directors that are registered with the council and who hold at least 53% (fifty-three percent) of the shares in the company.
(k) Private security
A foreigner cannot acquire an equity interest in, or sit on the board of, a Nigerian private security guard company in Nigeria.
Only a national agency (that is, an agency in which Nigerians own not less than 74.9% of the equity) can advertise in the Nigeria market.
(m) Legal Practitioner
A person can only be entitled to practice as a barrister or solicitor in Nigeria if his name is on the roll of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Nevertheless, the Chief Justice of the Federation may grant any legal practitioner who is entitled to practice in a legal system similar to Nigeria, licence to practice in Nigeria. Again, if it is expedient for a person to practice as a barrister for the purpose of specific proceedings, the Chief Justice may grant the person the licence to practice as a barrister in relation to the specific proceedings stipulated.
The above are some of the few businesses which insist on local content participation. There is greater awareness on the need for Nigerians to participate in major sector of the Nigerian economy. For instance in the telecommunications sector, stakeholders have frowned at the absence of clear local content policy in the industry which has resulted in massive loss of jobs meant for Nigerians and poor remuneration of Nigerian workers employed by foreign owned telecommunications companies in the wake of outsourcing business model. There is a clamor for the National Assembly to enact a local content law in other non-oil sectors to improve the capacity of Nigerian businesses and protect the employment of Nigerian employees.
(n) Recent development
On 5th February 2018, President Buhari signed Presidential executive order 5 for “planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science, engineering and technology”. Under the executive order, procuring authorities shall give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts in line with the Public Procurement Act, 2007. The executive order prohibits the Ministry of Interior from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria. The order also directs ministries, department and agencies to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects.
Nevertheless, consideration shall only be given to a foreign professional where it is certified by the appropriate authority that such expertise is not available in Nigeria. In such an instance, the authority will give preference to foreign companies with a demonstrable and verifiable plan for indigenous development prior to award of such contracts.
The firm of Fred-young & Evans LP, Nigeria has a book out titled “Impact of Nigeria’s Legislations and Business Practices on Foreign Investments”.
The book introduces expatriates to the business climate in Nigeria and the regulatory framework for carrying on business in Nigeria. The book is set out to give expatriates and foreign businesses a good grasp of what to expect in doing business in Nigeria. We have explored extant legislations and practices and obtained current information on the procedures for obtaining relevant business permits and approvals from government agencies. The book is divided into chapters, each dealing with the subject matter in an order which roughly follows the sequence of events in registration and business activities of a foreign business. The book deals with the growing influence of Alternative Dispute Mechanism especially Arbitration in promoting business relations and the role of courts in protecting foreign investments.
You can place an order on (https://www.lap-publishing.com/catalog/details/store/de/book/978-613-7-33937-4/impact-of-nigeria-s-legislations-and-business-practices?search=978-613-7-33937-4) or through our firm.
Under Section 6 (6) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, Nigerian legislations and powers of the courts extend to all matters between persons or between government and any person in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person. This means a foreigner or foreign business may invoke the provisions of Nigerian legislations and the judicial powers of the court to protect its civil rights and investments whether against Nigerians, a Nigerian company or even the Nigerian government.
Protection of foreign investments
(1) Stay of court proceedings subject to arbitration
Section 4 and 5 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act empowers the court to stay court proceedings subject to both local and foreign arbitration. It does not matter whether the seat of arbitration is Nigeria or the arbitrators would be Nigerians or the Nigerian Arbitration and Conciliation Rules apply to the arbitration.
(2) Application of foreign law
If the parties to a contract agree that foreign law will apply in resolving their disputes, Section 69 of the Evidence Act, 2011 provides that the Nigerian court shall apply the foreign law once it has jurisdiction to hear the case. In such instance, the court shall admit the opinion of an expert who in in his profession is acquainted with the foreign law. The expert may produce to the court books which they declare to be works of authority upon the foreign law in question. Upon receipt of the book and necessary explanation from the expert, the court shall construe the information contained therein for itself in making its decision.
(3) Discretion to stay proceedings on foreign jurisdiction clause
Where parties to a contract entered in Nigeria agree that where dispute arise between them, a foreign court will have jurisdiction to hear the case, by the ratio in the case of Sonnar Ltd v Nordwind (1987) NWLR (Pt. 66) 520, the Nigerian court is not bound to stay proceedings and decline jurisdiction in face of the foreign jurisdiction clause. The court will exercise its discretion in line with the justice of the case.
(4) Waiver of in personam jurisdiction
A Nigerian party to an international contract who later becomes a debtor may move from its place of business to another jurisdiction in a bid to frustrate its creditors from commencing an action or executing a judgment against it. The creditors can sustain an action against the debtor in any jurisdiction in Nigeria if the debtor had waived his right to personal jurisdiction in the contract. This is because it is settled Nigerian law that though a person cannot waive subject matter jurisdiction, he can waive his personal jurisdiction.
(5) Enforcement of arbitral awards and foreign judgments in Nigeria
Under Section 57 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Nigerian courts would uphold a foreigner or foreign business’ right to enforce a local or foreign arbitral awards as well as enforce foreign judgments in Nigeria whether or not he is resident in Nigeria or carrying on business in Nigeria.
(6) Recognition and Enforcement of International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) Awards
ICSID was established under the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (the ICSID Convention). It has a limited scope and jurisdiction. The subject matter of the proceedings must be an ‘investment matter” and one of the parties must be a contracting State or any constituent sub-division or agency thereof designated to the Centre by the State and the other party must be a national of another contracting party. The parties must agree to be bound by the ICSID Convention for it to apply to the exclusion of all other laws. The implication of this is that the national Courts of contracting States are restrained from interfering with the proceedings of the ICSID.
An award by ICSID is enforceable in Nigeria by virtue of Section 1 of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Act which provides that;
“Where for any reason it is necessary or expedient to enforce in Nigeria an award made by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a copy of the award duly certified by the Secretary-General of the Centre aforesaid, if filed in the Supreme Court by the party seeking its recognition for enforcement in Nigeria, shall for all purposes have effect as if it were an award contained in a final judgment of the Supreme Court, and the award shall be enforceable accordingly”
Once the ICSID award is registered at the Supreme Court, it ranks on the same level as a final judgment of Supreme Court of Nigeria.
(7) Right of action
Under Section 60 (b) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, a foreign company has a right of action against a Nigerian or a Nigerian company whether or not it is registered in Nigeria.
(8) Right of foreign creditors in insolvency proceedings in Nigeria
A foreign creditor can institute an action in court in its name or in the name of its attorney against a debtor for debt recovery in the same manner as a local creditor, as long as the debtor or its assets, or the underlying contract which gave rise to the debt was performed, within the jurisdiction of the court. The processes and remedies available to a local creditor also apply to a foreign creditor.
Under Section 238 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, where there is a bankruptcy, insolvency or reorganization order made against a debtor in a foreign proceeding, a certified copy of the order is, in the absence of contrary evidence, proof that the debtor is insolvent and a foreign representative has been appointed. In this instance, following an application of the foreign representative, the court can limit the property that the Nigerian trustee has power over.
In respect of a foreign proceeding commenced for the purposes of effecting a composition, extension of time or scheme of arrangement, on application by a foreign representative in a Nigerian court, the court may grant a stay of the proceeding against the debtor.
(9) Right against expropriation
Under Section 25 of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, no person who owns, whether wholly or in part, the capital of any business shall be compelled by law to surrender his interest in the capital to any other person. There shall be no acquisition of an enterprise to which this Act applies by the Federal Government, unless the acquisition is in the national interest or for a public purpose and a fair and adequate compensation paid. The business has a right to go to court for the determination of its interest or the amount of compensation to which he is entitled. Any compensation payable under this section shall be paid without undue delay, and authorisation for its repatriation in convertible currency shall where applicable, be issued.
(10) Right to own land
Under Section 38 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, a foreign company duly registered in Nigeria is a corporate person with a legal right to own land in Nigeria and other rights of a natural person.
(11) Tax exemptions and holidays
In order to encourage foreign investments, under Section 22 of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, a foreign company is entitled to tax holidays for some startup businesses and investment in disadvantage areas.
(12) Right to invest and repatriate dividends
Under Section 17, 21 and 24 of the Nigerian Investment and Promotion Act, foreigners have a right to invest or acquire shares in any Nigerian company and are guaranteed unconditional transferability of funds through an authorised dealer, in freely convertible currency, of—
a. dividends or profits (net of taxes) attributable to the investment;
b. payments in respect of loan servicing where a foreign loan has been obtained; and
c. the remittance of proceeds (net of all taxes), and other obligations in the event of a sale or liquidation of the enterprise or any interest attributable to the investment.
In the course of business, it is inevitable that disputes will arise occasionally among business associates. While commercial disputes are common, the way they are handled can have a profound impact on the profitability, viability and survival of the business. It is true that full blown disputes are always bad news for a business venture as they can lead to poor performance, scare investors, produce waste, divert resources, cause share values to decline, and, in some cases, paralyze a business.
In Nigeria’s pre-colonial society, disputes were resolved by respected members of the society or by the sovereign able assisted by his council of chiefs. Customary arbitration as it is later referred to, has similarities with the modern day Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) mechanisms because apart from the fact that it is quicker and less technical, it is also friendlier in nature and in most cases preserves the relationship of the parties to the dispute.
With the advent of the British, litigation relegated customary arbitration to the background but sooner than later, it was discovered that the composition of the litigation process is acrimonious and did not take into cognizance the value system of the pre-colonial societies. Though litigation has the advantage of finality and sanction, in most cases it destroys the business relationship between the parties. Either by design or coincidence, litigation with its inherence complexities became the main means of resolving commercial disputes in Nigeria. Hence, there grew a natural need amongst the business community, for a dispute mechanism that quickly resolves commercial disputes whilst preserving business relationships. As the Nigerian market became more competitive, businesses strived to maintain their customers while seeking new ones. But this is not always possible where commercial disputes drag on and on in the Courts.
Consequently, in Nigeria today, there are 3 (three) main methods of resolving commercial disputes. They are litigation, arbitration and mediation/conciliation. Large commercial disputes are litigated at the State and Federal High Court. The Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters of revenue, company taxation, customs and excise, banking, aviation and shipping. A large portion of commercial disputes cases are adjudicated upon at the State High Court which has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine matters other than those within the exclusive list of the Federal High Court. Appeal from these courts lie to the Court of Appeal and further to the Supreme Court.
The clog experienced with litigation has led to a greater awareness of the advantages of ADR mechanisms among business associates, investors and legal practitioners. Most contracts today contain ADR clauses or arbitration clauses. The Courts now refer parties to a dispute to the multi-door Court-house attached to the Courts to explore settlement of their dispute through one of the ADR mechanisms available at the multi-door Court-house. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act is being adopted or modified by many states of the Federation and there has been an increase in institutional and ad-hoc, local and international arbitrations as well as a tremendous rise in the activities of institutional arbitration centers in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. It is without doubt that Nigeria is equipping itself to grapple with the escalating commercial disputes resulting from the growth in business activities and increase in international trade and investment.
What are the main regulations regulating employment in Nigeria?
The main legislation regulating employment and labour relations in Nigeria is the Labour Act CAP. L1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. However the Act only covers employees engaged under a contract of manual labour or clerical work in private and public sector. Hence the need for other legislations which includes;
- Trade Union Act, CAP T14, Laws of the Federation 2004.
- Trade Dispute Act CAP T8, Laws of the Federation 2004.
- National Industrial Court Act, No 38. Vol. 93, 2006.
- The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
What types of employment are recognised under Nigerian law?
Generally, employments in Nigeria fall within three categories and they are;
- Employment which is governed by statute;
- Employment by written contract of employment;
- Employment at will or servant holding an office at pleasure of employer or Master and servant relationship.
a. Employment that is governed by statute
This is an employment with statutory flavour. An employment is said to have a statutory flavour when the appointment and termination is protected by statute or laid down regulations made to govern the procedure for employment of an employee. The rules and regulations are part of the terms and conditions of the employees’ employment which gives it statutory flavour. For an employee to effectively claim that his or her employment is coated with statutory flavour and be terminated according to its provisions, the employment must;
- have statutory reinforcement or at any rate, be regarded as mandatory,
- be within the meaning of the relevant statute and directly applicable to the employee or persons of his cadre,
- be seen to be protected under the statute; and
- have been breached in the course of determining the employment; before the employee can rely on same to challenge the validity of the termination of his or her employment.
b. Employment by written contract of employment
A contract of employment is defined in Section 91 of the Labour Act as-
” any agreement, whether oral or written, express or implied whereby one person agrees to employ another as a worker and that other person agrees to serve the employer as a worker”.
An employer is defined to mean “any person who has entered into a contract of employment to employ any other person as a worker either for himself or for the service of any other person and includes the agent, manager or factory of the first mentioned person and the personnel representative of a deceased employer”.
In the same section, a worker is defined to be “any person who has entered into or work under a contract with an employer, whether is for manual labour or clerical work or is expressed or implied or oral or written and whether it is a contract or service or a contract personally to execute any work or labour…”
Section 3 of the Labour Act stated that an employer must give an employee a written contract within 3 months of the commencement of the employment. The contract must have certain key terms namely; name of employer and employee, nature of employment, duration, wages, termination etc. The provisions of the contract regulate the relationship between the employer and the employee.
c. Employment at will or servant holding an office at pleasure or Master and servant relationship
An employment at will is when the employee holds an office at the pleasure of the employer. As the name suggest, this is a form of employment held at the will and caprices of the employer. Unlike employment with statutory favour, the continuous engagement of the employee is at the discretion of the employer. For example, a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is employed by the President and therefore he or she holds that office at the pleasure of the President.
This also applies to the personal aides of the employer. One major disadvantage of this type of employment is that loyalty of the employees is usually to the employer not necessarily for the general wellbeing of the masses or the business. The employer has a wide discretionary to “hire and fire“.
What are the means of termination of employment in Nigeria?
Generally, the principles of law governing the termination of an employment in Nigeria are dependent on the type of employment.
(i) Termination of an employment governed by statute.
Where the contract of employment is governed by the provisions of a statute or where the conditions are derived from statutory provisions, it invests the employee with a legal status than the ordinary one of master and servant. The termination therefore must be according to the provision of the relevant statute, otherwise the purported termination would be declared null and void by the court.
Where an appointment is not governed by any statutory provision, it does not enjoy statutory provision and cannot be said to have statutory flavour notwithstanding the fact that the organisation or institution is a creation of statute or is a statutory corporation. The fact that an organisation is a statutory body does not mean that the conditions of service of its employees are protected by statute.
(ii) Termination of an employment by written contract of employment
It is trite that where parties have entered into a contract or an agreement, they are bound by the provision of that contract or agreement as this is the whole essence of the doctrine of sanctity of contract. For a termination of employment to be lawful, it must be done in accordance with the provisions of the contract of employment. Where the termination is not in accordance with the provisions of the contract, the termination is wrongful and a claim for breach of contract would be sustained. In such an instance, damages for wrongful termination would be what the employee is entitled to had his or her employment been validly terminated in accordance with the provisions of the contract.
Section 9(7) of the Labour Act provides that for a contract of employment shall be terminated upon expiry of the period for which it was made or by the death of the employee before the expiry of that period or by notice in accordance with section 11 of the Act or the provisions of the contract.
(iii) Termination of employment at will
An employee in an employment at will hold office at the pleasure of the employer. Therefore there are no special criteria for its termination; the employer can terminate the employment whenever he desires and it will not amount to wrongful termination.
Practically, a type of employment may have the ingredients of another type of employment. For instance, an employee under an employment with statutory favour may have a written contract with his or her employer while a relationship between a Master and Servant may be reduced to a simple contract of employment. In such circumstance, the employment of the employee must be terminated in accordance with all the provisions regulating the employment of the employee.
Google will face a consumer action complaint potentially including millions of claimants, in one of the largest representative action cases to date.
The ‘Google You Owe Us’ group has alleged that Google unlawfully harvested personal information by bypassing the default privacy settings on the iPhone during a period of several months in 2011/2012. The group said around 5.4m individuals who had an iPhone in this period could be eligible for compensation.
City firm Mishcon de Reya is advising the group, which is being led by Richard Lloyd, consumer rights campaigner and former director at Which?.
Litigation funder Therium Captial Management, also currently funding the high-profile shareholder action group claim against Lloyds, is to help fund the case, reportedly to the tune of £15.5m.
James Oldnall (pictured), lead Mishcon partner on the claim, said the case would remove the need for individuals to bring an action which they would otherwise be unlikely to do. ‘In this way Google and other tech companies can be held to account in relation to any alleged breaches of UK data protection law.,’ he said. ’As data has quickly become an important new currency in the information economy and is very valuable to large corporations, it is important consumers find methods – such as this representative action – that can effectively police the rights given to them by parliament.’
Oldnall added that although the total sums made by Google from misusing data are likely to be large, the damages suffered by each individual are relatively small.
People affected will automatically be part of the claim, unless they wish to opt out and could get as much as ‘several hundred pounds each’.
Such opt-out group action cases were enabled by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. A huge case, in which 46 million MasterCard consumers claimed £14bn from the credit card company in protest at so-called excess ‘interchange fees,’ was thrown out of the Competition Appeal Tribunal earlier this year. An appeal has been filed. The Lloyds shareholder case is ongoing.
The case centres on Google’s cookies system. It is alleged that for several months Google placed ad-tracking cookies on the devices of Safari users which is set by default to block such cookies.
Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, said: ‘This welcome campaign should empower consumers by bringing the issue into the spotlight and enabling those affected to rightly seek collective compensation.’
A Google spokesperson said: ’This is not new – we have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.’
Litigation is the most common form of dispute resolution in Nigeria. Its origin is entrenched in the English common law. Oftentimes, litigation is cumbersome because of ingrained culture of litigation which results in overflow of cases and delay in adjudication. This is bad for business and business relationships. The need for a more efficient dispute resolution process has contributed to the prominence of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in recent years.
Nigerian courts through their rules now encourage litigants to resolve their disputes by adopting ADR mechanisms. The court may, with the cooperation and consent of the parties, refer the parties to ADR centers attached to the court system. If successful, the agreed terms of settlement is adopted as the consent judgment of the court. If unsuccessful, the matter is referred to court for adjudication. In adopting ADR processes, the parties may opt for informal tribunals which use informal mediation processes without possessing a formal structure or formal tribunals using formal mediation processes.
The most known and practiced ADR mechanisms in Nigeria are Arbitration, Mediation and Conciliation;
Arbitration is the process of dispute resolution between parties to a submission or arbitration agreement. The parties agree on the composition of the arbitral tribunal, seat, timetable, procedural rules, substantive law of arbitration and finality of the decision of the arbitral tribunal. The key theme in arbitration is ‘party autonomy’. Arbitral proceedings avoid much of the formalities, proof and procedure required by courts. The arbitral tribunal may determine its jurisdiction under the competence-competence rule. Generally, the arbitration process is regulated by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act CAP A18, LFN 2004.
Arbitration is recommended for most businesses because of its confidentiality, speed, reduced cost compared to the cost of delay in court, specialized expertise of the arbitral tribunal and party autonomy. Both local and foreign arbitral awards are enforceable by Nigeria courts upon the winning party obtaining leave to register and enforce the award against the losing party.
Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding and private dispute resolution process in which a neutral person helps the parties to reach a negotiated settlement. Mediation is very flexible. A mediator applies nonbinding communication techniques to enable the parties arrive at a common terms of settlement. While there are no Federal laws governing mediation, States in Nigeria have enacted laws on mediation.
In Lagos State, Lagos Multi-door Courthouse was established for the referral of ADR cases. The domestic sources of mediation law include the Lagos State Multi-Door Court Law 2007 and the accompanying Lagos State Multi-Door Court Practice Directions on Mediation, the Citizens Mediation Centre Law 2007 and the Lagos Court of Arbitration’s (LCA) Mediation Guidelines 2011. In Kano State, there is the Mediation and Arbitration Rules 2008.
Conciliation is another legal form of resolving disputes in a less adversarial and private manner. Under this process, the parties agree to resolve their dispute through a neutral independent person known as the Conciliator. Conciliation is also regulated by Arbitration and Conciliation Act CAP. A18 LFN 2004.
The appeal process
An appeal against final judgments is brought within 90 days after delivery of judgment and 14 days for interlocutory rulings. The Court of Appeal rules allows an Appellant to bring an application before the appellate court for enlargement of time to file an appeal. An appeal does not operate as a stay of execution of judgment at the trial court; the Appellant has to file for a stay of execution of judgment pending the outcome of the appeal. An appeal is filed against questions of law of the trial court. If an Appellant wants to bring an appeal against questions of facts or mixed law and facts, it must seek and obtain leave of the appellate court.
The parties shall settle the record of appeal at the registry of the trial court and transmit it to the registry of the appellate court. The Appellant shall file its Appellant’s Brief within 45 days after transmission of the record of appeal. The Respondent shall file the Respondent’s Brief within 30 days of receipt of the Appellant’s Brief. The Appellant shall file a Reply Brief within 14 days of receipt of the Respondent’s Brief. The parties shall, at a date fixed for hearing by the appellate court, adopt their respective briefs and the appeal will be adjourned for judgment.
Advantages of resolving disputes in Nigeria
Unlike other jurisdictions in Africa, the rules of Nigerian courts encourage and provide avenues for litigants to explore amicable and less acrimonious settlement of their dispute. Nigerian courts uphold arbitration and other ADR clauses and in most instances stay court proceedings pending the outcome of arbitral proceedings. The court system support ADR proceedings by granting necessary interim orders, discovery and enforce arbitral awards in the same way as its judgments.
Assistance in commercial litigation
Commercial lawyers are interested in their Clients’ business and their business relationship with their customers. This is why they explore amicable settlement of disputes involving their Client without compromising their Clients’ interests. If amicable settlement fails and the parties do not have an arbitration agreement between them, it may be expedient to suggest to the parties to sign a submission agreement to enable them submit themselves to arbitration because of its speed and confidentiality. If litigation is inevitable and their Clients’ claim is a liquidated sum, time would be saved by commencing a summary judgment proceeding. If their Client is the defendant, genuine admissions and reasonable offer towards timeous resolution of the matter are veritable options in preventing litigation from escalating.
Cost of litigation
Litigation has the potential of resulting in high cost for parties and their businesses because of its unpredictability. Though arbitration is much more efficient in today’s business climate, there are certain disputes that can only be resolved by litigation. Disputes involving moral questions, questions of public law, criminal, matrimonial, insolvency, matters, ownership of land, dissolution of a company and testamentary matters cannot be referred to arbitration. In practice, only contractual disputes are referred to arbitration.
City firms have begun to release retention rates for the autumn cohort of trainees, with many posting figures in excess of 80% – a significant indicator of health in the sector.
Slaughter and May leads the way in the magic circle so far. It has taken on 29 of 32 trainees (90%). Allen & Overy had 47 trainees and made offers to 41, of who 40 accepted (85%). Linklaters took on 47 of its 56-strong group (84%).
However, magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer offered contracts to only 29 of 41 trainees, with 27 (66%) accepting a role. It is in marked contrast to last September when the firm retained 95% of its 42 trainees.
As the Gazette went to press, Clifford Chance was the only magic circle firm yet to reveal retention figures.
Elsewhere, silver circle firm Ashurst took on 19 of 20 trainees (95%), while Bird & Bird retained 15 from 18 (83%). Hogan Lovells took on 24 out of 30 (80%)
International firm Pinsent Masons’ figures were not as high, though the firm had many more trainees than some of its rivals. Of 91 trainees, 84 applied and 67 were successful (73%).
Things were far less positive for Weil, Gotshal & Manges. The US-headquartered firm – famous for its high pay rates for newly qualified solicitors – offered contracts to all of its 10 trainees but only five accepted
International firm Taylor Wessing also posted a fairly low score, retaining 62% of its 26-strong cohort, while litigation experts Stewarts Law took on just one out of four trainees.
Lawyers across Pakistan are boycotting court to mourn the loss of some 70 people, many of them lawyers, killed in a bomb attack in Quetta.
In Balochistan – Quetta is the provincial capital – markets and schools have been closed.
The bomber targeted crowds who had gathered outside a hospital to mourn prominent lawyer Bilal Kasi who had been murdered earlier on Monday.
Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar says it was behind both the attack and murder.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) said its lawyers would be boycotting court proceedings, and observing a week of mourning.
Many lawyers are expected to take part in rallies across Pakistan on Tuesday.
“We [lawyers] have been targeted because we always raise our voice for people’s rights and for democracy,” SCBA President Ali Zafar told reporters in Lahore.
“Lawyers will not just protest this attack, but also prepare a long-term plan of action.”
Monday’s bombing targeted lawyers and journalists who had crammed into the emergency department of Quetta’s Civil Hospital where the body of Mr Kasi had been brought.
Former provincial bar president Baz Muhammad Kakar was one of at least 25 lawyers killed. TV news cameramen Shahzad Khan and Mehmood Khan were also among the dead.
At least 120 people were injured.
Bilal Kasi, who was head of the Balochistan province bar association, had earlier been shot while on his way to the court complex in Quetta.
He had strongly condemned the recent murders – including those of fellow lawyers – in Quetta in recent weeks, and had announced a two-day boycott of court sessions in protest at the killing of a colleague last week.
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